Symptoms (left venticular insufficiency)

In order to simplify and clarify the clinical signs of cardiac insufficiency, the treatment of the symptoms is done according to the classification of the disease.

Left venticular insufficiency:

  1. Acute
  2. Chronic
  1. Acute insufficiency of the left ventricle is characterized by dyspnea which occurs mostly at night, resembling cardiac asthma or acute pulmonary edema. The symptomatology of these conditions has been covered in the article for cardiomyosclerosis and pulmonary edema.
  2. The earliest symptom to emerge in chronic insufficiency of the left ventricle is dyspnea.
  • Dyspnea. Dyspnea is a very early and important symptom which at the beginning only appears during physical exertion. Later on, it also occurs when the patient is at rest. The patient feels the need to sleep with taller pillows, and a greater number of pillows. In more advanced stages, the patient cannot lie down at all, they must remain in a half-upright sitting position which is termed the orthopneic position.
    In other cases, the dyspnea takes on the character of a paroxysmal condition which occurs at night, waking the patient from sleeping. If further measures are not taken, this can lead to the development of acute pulmonary edema.
    Dyspnea is accompanied by coughing with a small amount of sputum. In cases of pulmonary edema, the expectorant (sputum) amount increases, becoming foam-like and hemoptoic (containing blood).
  • Bloody expectorant.
  • Angina pain (Chest pain). This mostly occurs during crises commonly experienced by patients suffering from acute pulmonary edema.
  • Cyanosis. This symptom is usually not present, except for the cases which become complicated by the onset of acute pulmonary edema or a pulmonary embolism.

For patients suffering from hypertension and elderly patients suffering from cerebral atherosclerosis, Cheyne-Stokes periodic respiration may be experienced (the breathing stops and restarts at irregular intervals).

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 19 Jun 2018
Medical Author: Dr. med. Diana Hysi