How to Live Well with Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) sounds scarier than it is. While it is a serious condition that needs prompt medical attention, it doesn’t mean that your heart has “failed.” It simply means that the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s optimal needs. This can be because of a leaky valve, atherosclerosis (a narrowing or hardening of the arteries) and/or high blood pressure.
For those living with CHF, there are several things they can do to help mitigate the effects of the disease. Here are a few tips that may help:
While this may seem counterintuitive, physical activity is critical to maintaining a healthy heart. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but moving around, going for a walk and even gardening can all help in the following ways:
- Helps your body use oxygen more efficiently
- Strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system
- Improves your circulation and lowers blood pressure
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Gives you more energy to stay more active
Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen.
Maintain a healthy weight
A healthy weight goes a long way in helping people live well with CHF. Being too heavy means you’re carrying around extra weight, which can make your heart work harder, which can create shortness of breath. Eating nutritiously boosts your overall wellness, making you less prone to getting sick, and includes eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains with lots of fiber.
Take your medications as prescribed
The medications that treat CHF may include ACE inhibitors (which relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure), beta blockers (which slow your heart rate and blood pressure), diuretics (which reduce excess fluid around the heart), and other medications. They are generally very effective at managing symptoms and should be taken as prescribed.
Learn how to relax
Stress can exacerbate any condition or illness, making symptoms worse. Getting enough exercise and plenty of sleep can go a long way in reducing stress. Additionally, meditation has been shown to increase overall well-being for people living with CHF. It can help promote deeper breathing, improve the quality of sleep and increase your energy level.
With the right medications and lifestyle changes, CHF is treatable and many living with the disease are able to live an active and fulfilling life. If medications and other treatment options aren’t working, surgery may be recommended and be include angioplasty, a procedure to open up blocked arteries, or heart valve repair.
Family Home Health’s CHF Program
FHH has a CHF program that is developed with physicians and includes comprehensive assessments, patient education and self-management. Our CHF Program, combined with telehealth monitoring and clinical protocols, results in better patient outcomes and reduced rehospitalizations.
The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your health care provider. If you notice CHF symptoms, contact your doctor. If you are living with CHF, follow your doctor’s advice about your treatment and lifestyle choices.