The 400,000 new cases of congestive heart failure every year mentioned above… that is in the U.S. alone. In fact it has been estimated that nearly five million people in the United States currently have congestive heart failure (CHF). And that number could continue to rise.
By the time we are 65 years old we are more likely to be hospitalized for CHF than for any other reason.
To me that is frightening. But it gets worse. Some estimates suggest that…
Why the frightening statistics?
So we will take CHF seriously.
One reason CHF is on the increase is simply because the U.S. population
is aging. There are more and more people who are getting older. But
there is a ray of hope. There are some indications that the percentage of people suffering from congestive heart failure could decrease.
For more on CHF survival please click here.
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Are there health issues – in addition to your heart health – that concern you? Like…
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Did you know that these health problems – as well as more serious chronic diseases – can be the result of …
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Congestive heart failure is not a simple diagnosis. Rather it is a
condition where the heart is unable to fill with blood or pump enough
blood to the rest of the body. It does not come upon a person suddenly
like a heart attack. It results over time because of one or more
Generally speaking CHF is the physiological result of damage to the heart caused by some underlying condition. The result is an enlarged heart or a heart that is unable to pump effectively enough to supply the body with necessary oxygen. The heart keeps pumping, sometimes overworking itself, while other major organs, and often the heart itself, suffer blood deprivation.
Because CHF is the result of other underlying problems, treatments must be evaluated based on the underlying cause of the disease.
That is to say… we do not always treat CHF directly. Rather we try to identify the underlying causes and treat those. For that reason it is imperative for us to maintain good heart health habits. By taking care of ourselves it is often possible to prevent the conditions that cause CHF.
There are several ways to classify CHF. Two of the most popular are as follows:
The type of CHF a person has can be classified by the side of the heart that is affected. Therefore someone may be said to have left heart failure or right heart failure.
Another way of classifying CHF is determined by whether the weakness involves the contraction or relaxation of the heart. If the heart does not contract well the condition is called systolic heart failure. If the heart does not relax well one is said to have diastolic heart failure.
The heart consists of four chambers. The first is the right atrium. It is the thin-walled chamber that pumps blood into the right ventricle. The right ventricle is a muscular chamber that pumps blood through the pulmonary artery into the lungs.
The left atrium and the left ventricle have a similar relationship, except the left ventricle pumps blood through the aorta to the rest of the body.
When the heart is in its resting phase the tricuspid (having three cusps or points) and mitral (having two cusps) valves open allowing some of the blood in the atria to flow passively into the ventricles. Then the atria contract forcing the rest of the blood into the ventricles. When the ventricles become full they in turn contract, forcing the tricuspid and mitral valves shut, thereby pushing the blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.
Sometimes the left ventricle becomes weak and cannot adequately push the blood along. At times the valves don’t seal properly or become narrowed allowing blood to flow backwards.
Either event can allow fluid to fill the lungs causing difficulty in breathing while hindering oxygen transfer into the bloodstream.
The result is a feeling of fatigue.
Malfunctioning of the right ventricle can cause a rise in blood vessel pressure. The result is an increase of fluid being forced from the blood vessels into body tissues causing swelling in the abdomen, legs and feet.
This really is the important issue. If the underlying conditions causing CHF are treatable then the overall condition can be improved. It also follows…
If the underlying causes of CHF can be prevented then CHF can also be prevented.
As you might guess there are numerous factors that can cause or influence congestive heart failure. Here are a few examples…
In many cases CHF is caused or influenced by things under our control. In other cases the primary underlying cause may be genetic and beyond our control. However, even in such cases as these…
We can control many of the secondary influences that can make CHF deadly.
For instance we have some control over…
Unfortunately CHF symptoms are not always clear. That is why it is imperative to let your doctor diagnose the problem.
However there are some classic signs to look for. For left heart failure you may experience…
For right heart failure you might experience…
It is clear from these symptoms why it is important to have your doctor
diagnose your condition. Many of these symptoms can be caused from a
number of other conditions not related to congestive heart failure.
Click here for more detail on symptoms of left heart failure and right heart failure.
Proper diagnosis requires a physical exam and detailed medical history taking. Self-diagnosis is not a good idea. When symptoms indicate that a patient may have CHF a physical exam will include…
As mentioned above, treatments for CHF can vary depending on the underlying causes. But regardless of the underlying causes certain treatments have been shown to benefit most CHF sufferers. For example ACE inhibitor therapy is recommended for all patients with systolic heart failure regardless of underlying cause or actual blood pressure. ACE inhibitors…
Other drugs your doctor might prescribe include…
There are several things we can do to help prevent
and minimize the effects of congestive heart failure. Of course diet and
exercise are very important. Also any dietary supplements that help
prevent the underlying conditions are also essential.
Don’t underestimate the value of natural elements in the fight against CHF. For example…
There have been numerous studies on CoQ10 supplementation and CHF.
CoQ10 is essential to the production of cellular energy which in turn is essential to proper functioning of heart cells.
Many trials have been conducted to study CoQ10 as a treatment for congestive heart failure.
Other natural elements believed to help minimize the effects of CHF are…
Again, don’t underestimate your part in preventing and minimizing the effects of CHF. Watch your diet, get exercise, and take supplements that can bolster your general heart health.
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