Congested Heart Failure Case Study Essay

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Congested Heart Failure

(adapted from McGraw Hill Case Studies)

Chief Complaint: 74-year-old woman with shortness of breath and swelling.

History: Martha Wilmington, a 74-year-old woman with a history of rheumatic fever while in her twenties, presented to her physician with complaints of increasing shortness of breath ("dyspnea") upon exertion. She also noted that the typical swelling she's had in her ankles for years has started to get worse over the past two months, making it especially difficult to get her shoes on toward the end of the day. In the past week, she's had a decreased appetite, some nausea and vomiting, and tenderness in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.

On physical examination, Martha's jugular veins
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As the blood quickly flows in, it will hit the hardened walls, creating an extra sound. In congestive heart failure, preload and contractility are major factors in the improper functioning of the heart as a pump.

3) Is her history of rheumatic fever relevant to her current symptoms? Explain. Rheumatic fever caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria may cause damage to heart tissues including valves. Overtime, congestive heart failure may have developed. However, the pulmonary semilunar valve seems to be the issue in this case study, whereas rheumatic fever normally affects left heart tissue.
4) A chest X-ray reveals a cardiac silhouette that is normal in diameter. Does this rule out a possible problem with Martha's heart? Explain. No, a normal diameter of a cardiac silhouette does not rule out a problem with Martha’s heart. The heart adapts and will compensate for damage in order to still function optimally. The right ventricle, in this case, will become stronger in order to push the same amount of blood (stroke volume) through the narrowed pulmonary semi-lunar valve. This thickening doesn’t necessarily change the inner diameter.

5) You examine Martha's abdomen and find that she has an enlarged liver ("hepatomegaly") and a moderate degree of ascites (water in the peritoneal cavity). Explain these findings.
The increased resistance of blood flow through the pulmonary semilunar valve from the right ventricle backs up the pressure of blood
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