What is Congestive Heart Failure and How Does it Affect Seniors?
Congestive Heart Failure, also known as CHF, occurs when the heart muscles fail to pump the bodies blood to the full extent it should be. Congestive Heart Failure is said to affect about 5.7 million people in the United States, ranging from children to elderly individuals. It is important to note that Congestive Heart Failure is very serious and although it does not mean that your heart has stopped pumping blood completely, it should be addressed with a medical professional as soon as possible.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive Heart Failure may present itself in many different forms and can either be acute or chronic. Despite the different type of CHF, common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of appetite
- Fatigue or weakness, causing the inability to carry out exercises
- Weight gain due to fluid retention in the body
- Coughing or wheezing
- Chest pain
- Frequent urination, most commonly at night
- Irregular heart beat
- Reduced attentiveness
Symptoms of heart failure should not be taken lightly and are very serious. If an individual is experiencing one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, seeking medical attention or making an appointment with a medical professional is advised.
It is imperative to note that if an individual with Congestive Heart Failure is experiencing intense and sudden chest pains, he or she is advised to seek medical attention right away, as this can be a sign of a heart attack.
What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?
Heart failure of any kind can be a direct result from other conditions that can deteriorate or weaken the heart and its ability to function fully, also known as systolic heart failure. However, there are instances when Congestive Heart Failure occurs due to the heart becoming too stiff, also called diastolic heart failure, which impedes its ability to pump blood properly. Other possible causes of Congestive Heart Failure include but is not limited to:
- High Blood Pressure
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Other Heart Diseases
- Excessive alcohol or drug usage
- HIV or AIDS
- Radiation or chemotherapy, often as a result from cancer treatment
How to Prevent Congestive Heart Failure
Although heart failure can be a direct result from underlying conditions, some developed at birth, preventing Congestive Heart Failure often comes down to developing healthy habits that will shape the trajectory of the quality of life that an individual will experience. These habits are more likely to be successful if an individual’s family and support system gives them the sustenance they need in order to live a healthy life. Heart healthy habits that can help an individual prevent heart failure includes:
- Avoiding the use of illegal drugs
- Avoiding drinking alcohol in excess
- Participating in physical activity as often as agreed upon with your medical professional
- Avoiding all usage of tobacco products
- Keeping body weight in the healthy range as agreed upon with your medical professional
In order to prevent heart failure, it is important to speak with a medical professional regarding family history, lifestyle habits and how to prevent CHF from developing.
How Congestive Heart Failure Affects Lives: Complications and Lifestyle
Congestive Heart Failure can affect quality of life greatly, especially if it leads to further complications within the body. Complications can include liver damage, heart rhythm disruptions, heart valve issues or kidney damage and/or failure. Additionally, developing Congestive Heart Failure can be a life-threatening, leading to a deadly heart attack or overall heart failure that can result in death. It is important that an individual with Congestive Heart Failure changes his or her lifestyle once they are aware of their personal risks of developing heart failure. Furthermore, medication will be a part of the individuals’ routine, as it will help them life a healthier lifestyle with CHF.
Heart failure in the elderly can cause more severe issues and complications, as the human body becomes increasingly fragile as it ages. Elderly individuals with Congestive Heart Failure may be put on medication right away or their symptoms may increase rapidly.
If you or a loved one has Congestive Heart Failure and needs assistance, in-home care may be a viable option for you to improve quality of life. A caregiver can assist an individual with Congestive Heart Failure with transportation assistance, meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders, as well as provide companionship during this difficult time in their lives. Not only can in-home caregivers help the individual with Congestive Heart Failure, but it can give familial caregivers much needed rest by providing respite care to those in need.