The heart has lost some of its ability to pump blood. The weak pumping causes fluid (congestion) to build up in the lungs and body tissues. Congestive heart failure is more common in older adults, and affects men more than women.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Feeling short of breath with activity or after lying down for a while.
Feeling tired and weak.
Coughing or wheezing.
Sleep apnea (disturbed breathing at night).
Swollen legs, ankles, and stomach.
Appetite loss. A weight gain is due to retained water.
Muscle wasting (loss of muscle mass).
Swollen or protruding neck veins.
Less urine, and a need to urinate at night.
Less mentally alert, or unable to concentrate.
Having to sleep propped up or in a recliner.
Over time, various disorders cause the muscles, valves, and blood vessels of the heart to become damaged and weak. The heart is not able to pump enough blood, oxygen, and nutrients to other organs in the body that they need in order for them to function properly.
RISK INCREASES WITH
Uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Disease of the heart valves.
Damage following a heart attack.
Coronary artery disease.
Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart).
Congenital (being born with) heart disease.
Abnormal rhythm or irregular heartbeat.
Risk factors for heart disease that can lead to heart failure include: smoking, obesity, high levels of fats in the blood, use of certain drugs, diet high in fat or salt, diabetes, alcohol abuse, and lack of physical activity.
If you have a condition that can lead to congestive heart failure, get medical care. Follow your treatment plan. Eat a diet high in fiber, and low in fat and salt. Don't abuse alcohol and don't smoke. Exercise regularly.
Symptoms may be relieved with treatment. Long-term outcome depends on each individual patient and the severity of heart failure.
Heart attack, cardiac arrest, severe heart rhythm problems, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), side effects of drugs, total heart failure, and death.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and activities. Medical tests may include blood studies and X-rays. Studies may be done of heart activity, function, and size to see if there has been a heart attack, and the extent of heart damage.
The goal of treatment is to improve the heart's pumping function. This may include drugs, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Your health care provider will devise a treatment plan based on your individual needs.
Don't smoke. Find a way to quit that works for you.
Hospital care may be needed for severe cases. Supplemental oxygen may be used to help breathing.
Surgery may be required for heart valve problems.
A heart transplant may be recommended for severe cases that do not respond to other treatment. A mechanical device may be used temporarily to help the heart's pumping function.
Wear or carry identification that says you have this condition. Be sure it lists any drugs that you take.
To learn more: American Heart Association, local branch listed in telephone directory, or call (800) 242-8721; website: www.americanheart.org.
Drugs may be prescribed to improve heart function, to slow and regulate the heart rate, remove extra fluid, lower blood pressure, relax blood vessels, suppress the immune system, and to treat any underlying disorder.
Follow medical advice about physical activity limits and when it is safe to resume driving and sexual relations.
Eat a diet that is low in salt and fat. Avoid alcohol.
Go on a weight-loss diet if your weight is a problem.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF
You or a family member has symptoms of congestive heart failure.
After diagnosis, any new symptoms occur that cause concern, or other symptoms worsen.