Fast Five Quiz: Test Your Knowledge on Key Aspects of Heart Failure

Yasmine S. Ali, MD, MSCI


February 07, 2020

Systemic venous hypertension is manifested by jugular venous distention. Normally, jugular venous pressure declines with respiration; however, it increases in patients with heart failure, a finding known as the Kussmaul sign (also found in constrictive pericarditis). This reflects an increase in right atrial pressure and, therefore, right-sided heart failure. In general, elevated jugular venous pressure is the most reliable indicator of fluid volume overload in older patients, and thorough evaluation is needed.

Protodiastolic (S3) gallop is the earliest cardiac physical finding in decompensated heart failure in the absence of severe mitral or tricuspid regurgitation or left-to-right shunts. The presence of an S3 gallop in adults is important, pathologic, and often the most apparent finding on cardiac auscultation in patients with significant heart failure.

The following may occur in elderly patients with advanced heart failure, particularly in those with cerebrovascular atherosclerosis:

  • Confusion

  • Memory impairment

  • Anxiety

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Bad dreams or nightmares

  • Rarely, psychosis with disorientation, delirium, or hallucinations

Nocturia may occur relatively early in the course of heart failure. Recumbency reduces the deficit in cardiac output in relation to oxygen demand, renal vasoconstriction diminishes, and urine formation increases. Nocturia may be troublesome for patients with heart failure because it may prevent them from obtaining much-needed rest. Oliguria is a late finding in heart failure, and it is found in patients with markedly reduced cardiac output from severely reduced left ventricular (LV) function.

For more on the presentation and physical examination of patients with heart failure, read here.


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