It stands for congestive heart failure and is also called “chronic” heart failure at times, but what is it? It sounds impending, and ominous, but with research you’ll find comfort in understanding your diagnosis. Congestive heart failure means that your heart can’t pump blood as well as it should be able to. When the heart has less power to pump blood to the body, this can ultimately damage organs and fluid can collect in the body and lungs.
Congestive heart failure may be symptomless or range from mild to severe. Symptoms may be constant or infrequent and may include:
- Shortness of breath, dry cough, or wheezing
- Build up of fluid in the body: swollen ankles, legs, and abdomen, increase frequency of urination at night, loss of appetite and/or nausea.
- Dizziness, tiredness, weakness, and/confusion
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats
- Weight gain
- Chest pain
- Fainting (in severe cases)
**If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of heart failure, seek medical attention immediately.**
What causes CHF?
Did you know that your risk for congestive heart failure does not go up as you age? Why, then, are we more likely to get CHF as an elder? There are many medical conditions that damage the heart muscle that can cause heart failure. A few examples include coronary artery disease (which is caused due to a build up of plaque in the arteries) diabetes, obesity, smoking and other recreational drug usage, and high blood pressure.
What can we do?
- Keep a daily check on your blood pressure
- Learn to identify the symptoms of heart failure and monitor your symptoms
- Maintain an ideal height to weight ratio
- Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor at the right time
- Visit your doctor regularly
- Quit smoking/vaping and chewing tobacco and nicotine products. Contact a physician about quitting any illicit drug habits
- Let your doctor know if you are on any other medication, including those for acidity (GERD) and diabetes
- Get help for emotional or psychological support (Create a strong emotional foundation to stand on)
- If you wear oxygen and/or a PAP (positive airway pressure machine), wear as prescribed by your doctor to help aid in normal limits of O2 saturations during the day and night. This will reduce the rate at which both your lungs and heart must work.
…What’s the outlook?
Of course, you need to talk to your doctor first to discuss your prognosis. Your prognosis depends on how well your heart muscle is working, the severity of your symptoms, your response to your treatment plan but most importantly is how you follow that treatment plant.
According to Cleveland Clinic, “study showed that the survival rates of people with chronic heart failure were 80% to 90% for one year, but that dropped to 50% to 60% for year five and down to 30% for 10 years. A different study found that people who had heart failure and were discharged from the hospital had expected life spans ranging from three to 20 years, depending on various factors like age and gender.” But with the right care, CHF won’t stop you from doing the things you enjoy.
What should I take away?
If you take away anything, please understand the symptoms of congestive heart failure and monitor yourself for them if you have pre-existing conditions that can lead to CHF. And **if you or anyone you know are exhibiting symptoms of congestive heart failure, pleases seek medical attention immediately.**
Source: Focus Medica, AHA, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic