Medical Q&As

Heart failure - or maybe its a heart attack?

I have been told that my mother who is 80 has fluid in her lungs and also the left ventricle in her heart is not functioning. Is this a heart attack and how will it affect her? Her blood pressure is also very high.

The scenario you are describing is one of heart failure and it is likely that your mother’s high blood pressure has contributed to the problem. The human cardiovascular system can be compared to a plumbing system. If the pressure in the pipes is too high, as evidenced by the presence of high blood pressure, then the pump or heart has to work much harder. If the pressure in the system has been high over an extended period of time then the pump begins to fail resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the lungs and other systems. Given your mother’s age it is also possible that she has suffered a “silent” heart attack, which means that a heart attack has occurred in the absence of intense chest pain. A heart attack would also contribute to pump failure. Essentially a heart attack means that a section of the heart muscle has been deprived of oxygen with resultant damage to that muscle. There are many effective medications available that can control your mother’s blood pressure and take the load off her currently failing heart. I cannot give a more specific prognosis because I am not involved in her day-to-day management.