congestive heart failure diagram

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) can be a scary and confusing diagnosis. Congestive heart failure has a number of causes including heart attacks, infections, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure and even genetics. Once you are diagnosed with congestive heart failure it is important to alter your lifestyle to limit the impact that the disease has on your health. You may be stuck with congestive heart failure, but it doesn’t have to define your life.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is Congestive Heart Failure?

The heart is a pump. Its job is to pump old non oxygenated blood from the body to the lungs so it can be oxygenated and then be pumped out so that each and every cell can be supplied. Congestive heart failure is the inability of the left side of the heart to pump an adequate amount of blood due to different factors. Because of this condition, the heart is weak and unable to pump all of its blood forward and some of it backs up to the lungs. This results in the lungs becoming congested with blood and fluid. Thus the name, “congestive” heart failure. This congestion makes the patient, feel short of breath. The more you exert yourself, the more oxygen the body requires and the less able the heart is to supply it. This is mainly the reason people may have a poor tolerance for activity if the CHF is not well controlled.

Heart failure, if left untreated, can cause damage to other important organs. Each and every tissue in your body requires a supply of oxygen and nutrients to do well. Your kidneys, your liver, your abdominal organs, and even your lungs must be supplied constantly with an adequate supply of oxygenated blood. If your heart is unable to deliver that oxygen rich blood those vital organs will begin to fail over time.

Additional Resources:

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the signs and symptoms of heart failure may be easy to miss or to blame on other simpler issues. They include:

Resources to help you recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease:

What Treatments are Available for Congestive Heart Failure?

Most treatment options for congestive heart failure involve the use of various medications. A physician will work closely with you to find the perfect combination of medications that will help your heart work better and help with the demands of the body. Managing CHF requires a delicate balance between taking the work load off the heart and supplying enough oxygen and nutrients to the organs of the body. There are a couple of things you can do to make that job just a bit easier for your heart. We will discuss those a little later in the article.

There are invasive treatments for advanced congestive heart failure including heart transplantation and even the implantation of a pump that helps the heart push the blood along, but they are beyond the scope of this article. Let’s concentrate on some of the more common treatment options.

You may be prescribed a combination of the following medications to help with your heart failure.

For more information regarding medications used to treat congestive heart failure:

Since you will be taking multiple medications at multiple times during the day it is essential that you develop a system that works for you. Perhaps purchasing a pill box that you can fill once a week and use each day may help. It is imperative that you be 100% compliant with your medication regimen. Each medication is designed to not only to work with your body, but to also work with each other to maximize your heart’s ability to pump blood. It can be dangerous to take your medications at the wrong times or in wrong dosages.

Keeping your Heart Failure from Progressing

There are some relatively straight forward recommendations that may help keep your congestive heart failure at bay. The first we have already dealt with: 100% compliance with medication.

Additional resources to help with healthy life style changes in patient with congestive heart failure: