We only have one, and it’s arguably the most important part of the body – so hearing the news that our heart is “failing” is alarming. Congestive heart failure (CHF) affects approximately 6 million individuals in the United States alone, according to research by the CDC, and though it’s a chronic illness, there are actions people can take to slow the progression and control the effects.
What Are the Causes of Congestive Heart Failure?
Generally speaking, CHF is the result of a weakening of the heart from ailments such as:
- Heart attack
- Coronary heart disease
- Cardiomyopathy (injury to the heart muscle)
- Malfunctioning heart valves
- Congenital heart defects
- Myocarditis (swelling of the heart muscle)
- Heart arrhythmias
- Thyroid disease
- And various other chronic illnesses
What Are the Stages of CHF?
There are 4 principal stages of congestive heart failure:
Those who are in danger for developing CHF because they currently have diabetes, a family history of cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, or early coronary artery disease, are regarded as in the earliest stage of CHF. At this level, changes in lifestyle are critical to stop CHF from happening. This can include medication, exercise, and dietary changes.
In this stage, there is some indication of changes in the heart that could result in CHF. There might have been a preceding heart attack or heart valve disease, or elevated blood pressure may be compromising heart health. Treatments include the lifestyle adjustments for Stage A, and also potential surgical procedures or other treatments for heart valve disease, heart attack, or artery blockage.
Stage C is considered the first stage in which CHF is technically clinically diagnosed. Symptoms include puffiness in the legs, shortness of breath (including after awakening or getting up from a supine position), and the inability to exercise. Cardiac rehab and medications may help improve quality and length of life for individuals in Stage C.
By the time someone gets to Stage D, options include a heart transplant or mechanical heart pump. It’s important to see a heart specialist immediately upon getting a Stage D CHF diagnosis to ascertain the optimum plan of action.
How Can a Person Live With Congestive Heart Failure?
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests moderately strenuous aerobic activity for a minimum of thirty minutes per day, five days per week, for maximum heart health. However, it is important to ask the doctor for specific guidelines. Notably, exercise should not result in breathlessness for those with CHF.
Other important lifestyle changes to slow the progression of the disease include:
- Implementing a low- or reduced-salt diet
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Keeping blood pressure levels in check
- Getting enough sleep
- Lowering stress
How Senior Care Can Help Someone With CHF
A professional caregiver can make a significant difference in the quality of life for a loved one with congestive heart failure. A few of the numerous ways they can assist include:
- Grocery shopping and preparing heart-healthy meals
- Offering transportation to doctor appointments
- Motivating and encouraging the senior to keep up with an exercise program
- Ensuring medications are taken exactly how and when they are prescribed
- Providing friendly companionship to relieve isolation and loneliness
- Plus much more
Get in touch with Abby Senior Care, an expert provider of senior care in Highlands Ranch, CO and the surrounding areas, at 303-699-8840 for additional information on how our trusted home care services can make each day the best it can be for someone with congestive heart failure.