Senior man experiencing congestive heart failure

In congestive heart failure (CHF), the heart is unable to effectively pump blood throughout the rest of the body.

CHF is not curable, although early detection and treatment can go a long way in improving a person’s life expectancy and quality of life. It can be caused by numerous conditions affecting the heart, such as a heart attack, coronary/congenital heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic alcohol abuse, thyroid disorders or damaged heart valves.

Embassy Healthcare, which features a comprehensive cardiac care program, offers the following information on the symptoms, causes and treatment options involved with CHF.

Symptoms

Signs of congestive heart failure vary, but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath: May occur at rest, along with exercise, while waking up, times of stress, or due to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs
  • Swelling (edema), commonly in legs, feet, ankles or hands
  • Diminished ability to exercise
  • Chest pain, especially if CHF is rooted in heart disease

Stages

There are four distinct stages of CHF, with a person’s life expectancy varying greatly depending on the stage. They are:

  • Stage 1 (pre-CHF): Early stage in which a person may not have any symptoms, but a physician has noticed an issue with the heart. Individual may have another disorder affecting the heart.
  • Stage 2: These subjects may display minor symptoms or have other heart complications, but do not have symptoms characteristic of CHF. Doctors may recommend lifestyle adjustments.
  • Stage 3: Person may experience regular symptoms and have difficulty with everyday tasks.
  • Stage 4 (late-stage CHF): This patient may experience constant, debilitating symptoms, even when resting. This stage usually requires more extensive surgical procedures to manage.

Treatment

CHF treatment plans vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition, but lifestyle adjustments are often recommended to lessen its impact on the person’s life.

Diet changes often suggested include the elimination of excess salt and cutting out alcohol. Aerobic exercises such as jogging, riding a bicycle or swimming may be recommended to increase the heart rate and overall health of the heart.

Excess fluid makes it harder for the heart to effectively pump blood throughout the body. Because those with CHF tend to retain fluid, doctors may limit the amount of liquid a patient takes in each day. Monitoring weight also helps in this regard, as it may identify when the body is retaining too much fluid.   

Diuretic medications are often suggested to help reduce the amount of fluid in the body. Other medications such as ACE inhibitor, ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) and beta-blockers can improve life expectancy.

Embassy Healthcare’s cardiac care program offers services such as:

  • On-site cardiac care
  • Dietary monitoring
  • Preventative care
  • Personalized heart care plan
  • Continued education to improve success rates at home

Our cardiac care program is available to both long-term and short-term residents showing signs of heart failure or those who have already been diagnosed with heart failure.

For more information about our cardiac care program, call 888-975-1379.