Overview: Cardiac Cachexia
An intricating syndrome that comes as a side symptom in many chronic diseases like Cancer and AIDS etc is termed Cachexia. Cachexia fetches its origin from the Greek word Kakos (Bad) and Hexis (Habit). It is considered to always occur in association with a particular already existing illness in the patient. It causes severe loss of muscle mass with or without loss of fat mass too. But fat mass loss is generally associated with Anorexia, but Anorexia refers to voluntary weight loss by the person when he/she feels falsely obese and thus avoids even which is the general requirement of the body – essential for making up the muscles and fat.
It rarely finds its occurrence independently; firstly in a person- there must be some chronic occurring already. This facilitates to increase its vagueness by muscle wasting or emaciation. It starts when excess muscle loss paves way for uncontrolled; necessary muscle loss too. Although the demands of the body increase but protein and calorie intake will not suffice. If cachexia occurs with cancer; then inflammation and chemicals created by tumors can affect appetite and cause the body to burn calories more quickly than usual.
Also, tumor-mediated factors are identified to activate the proteolysis (breakdown of proteins) and lipolysis (breakdown of lipid/fat). So; tumors also facilitate fat breakdown resulting in excess weight loss which makes the body, so frail and vulnerable to infections that bring them to their death bed. So; for this reason simply taking more food/calories will not work, as a treatment for this kind of emaciation.
What is Cardiac Cachexia?
Till now we came to know about; what is merely cachexia which occurs with other accompanying chronic diseases such as AIDS, cancer, etc. So, focusing on our main field of discussion today i.e. cardiac cachexia, its cachexia caused by some heart disease. It can occur in people who had suffered from serious heart failure. So; scientists say that; the root cause for this may be the malfunction of the digestive tract.
After a basic statistic, behind the cause of such ailment, the analytics found a few basic causes, which are as under:-
- Breakdown of muscle due to inflammation & chemical increase in your blood.
- These ailments involuntarily induce more breakdown of muscle & fat for even basic things like breathing.
So; the relationship between the absorption of food & egestion of food is independent of each other; which means: you burn more calories, but at the same time, you can’t absorb them from food. So; automatically; so are very much on the path of becoming cachexia.
- Sometimes it’s some dis-balance with your hormones which control blood pressure & blood sugar level.
- Due to the increased deficiency of required nutrients; the liver is unable to make an important protein called ALBUM; which helps to maintain osmotic balance in blood to carry important chemicals throughout your body.
- Congestive heart failure causes difficulty in nutrient absorption & thus there is a problem in fluid breakup in terms of its concentration & transportation.
There’s no such specific diagnosis for cachexia but doctors try to fetch its root by judging based on the following:-
Doctors try to diagnose for ALBUMIN protein level in blood when you have lost >5% of your body’s weight in the past 6 months involuntarily.
A point to be noted here is that; Heart failure may retain water & swell, due to which the body may look healthy weight-wise & you are not able to make out that you are suffering from cachexia. So; doctors check for your muscle mass and your grip & daily activities rate – that at which rate than earlier; you can complete your daily tasks like walking & other physical activities.
Same as diagnosis; there’s no specific treatment that can completely treat cachexia; as it occurs due to the presence of an already existing chronic disease. But talking specifically about CARDIAC CACHIXIA in which; the wasting of muscles occurs with HEART FAILURE, this fluid maintained will not let loose the water concentration & swelling may persist, due to which CACHEXIA might go unnoticed. So; to get rid of this extra fluid, which is hiding your present CACHEXIA condition; some medicines are available.
Apart from that; the following methods may improve the condition so far but could not cure it 100%:-
- EXERCISE – which will strengthen your existing muscles & build up some muscle mass.
- SUPPLEMENTS – can help in retaining essential nutrients in the body.
- HUNGER/APPETITE INCREASING MEDICINES – they will increase your hunger.
- Hi there, my name is Subin Joshua, and I am a Medical student. I grew up in a family of teachers and know that being a social worker is my calling. My passion for helping others has been evident in my involvement in helping the poor and needy for the last three years. Through those experiences, I have learned to interact with a diverse group of people, which has increased my ability to relate to others.