In some cases, doctors may also prescribe beta-blockers to support these efforts and control the heart rate. Doctors also commonly prescribe diuretics for people with CHF, as they may help the body eliminate excess liquid. Common diuretics include hydrochlorothiazide, bumetanide, and furosemide. In the later stages of heart failure, doctors may recommend surgery to insert a left ventricular assisted device LVAD into the heart. An LVAD is a pump that helps the heart muscle contract, and it is often a permanent solution.
A full heart transplant may also be an option if the person is considered suitable for the operation. No matter what stage of CHF a person is at, or what medical treatment they follow, doctors will likely recommend making lifestyle changes to minimize the impact of CHF. These changes may help slow the condition and increase a person's quality of life.
Eating a healthful, varied diet and getting regular exercise is recommended for everyone, but is especially important for people with CHF. Doctors often recommend that people with CHF eliminate excess salt sodium from their diet, as it causes the body to retain fluids. Doctors may also recommend cutting out alcohol. Aerobic exercise is any activity that elevates the heart rate and breathing rate. Activities include swimming, bicycling, or jogging.
Regular aerobic exercise may improve heart health, leading to a better quality of life and perhaps even increasing life expectancy in people with CHF. Doctors can help individuals make a personalized exercise routine that works for them. People with CHF tend to retain fluid in the body, so doctors often recommend restricting their fluid intake to the minimum each day. Consuming too much liquid may cancel out the effects of diuretic medicines. While it is essential to stay hydrated, a doctor will be able to recommend just how much fluid a person can safely consume a day.
For someone with CHF, watching their weight is often less about fat accumulation than it is about fluid retention.
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Doctors will often ask people to monitor their weight each day to check for any sudden or fast weight gain, which may be linked to fluid retention. Monitoring a person's weight every day can help a doctor prescribe the correct levels of diuretics to help the body release fluid. Each person with CHF will have a different experience with the condition, and life expectancy for the disease will vary significantly between individuals. Life expectancy depends on what stage CHF has reached, as well as what other complications or health problems the person has.
People who have received an early diagnosis may have a better outlook than those who did not receive a diagnosis until the later stages.
Many people find that positive lifestyle changes can significantly improve the symptoms of CHF and their well-being. Medication helps many people with CHF, and doctors will sometimes recommend surgery. Working directly with a doctor or medical team is crucial to make an individualized treatment plan and give someone the best possible outlook.
Article last reviewed by Wed 18 April Visit our Heart Disease category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Heart Disease. All references are available in the References tab. Mortality in heart failure patients.
Edelmann, F. Chronic heart failure. Heart failure. Mozaffarian, D. Turner, M. Heart disease and stroke statistics — update: A report from the American Heart Association. MLA Johnson, Jon. MediLexicon, Intl. Table 2. ICD indicates implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. As an ICD patient, you are asked to rely on technology for protection.
Adults with Congenital Heart Disease Can Live Full Lives
You must recognize that it may take some time to regain your sense of security regarding your medical condition. Learning about the purpose and function of your ICD will help you feel more comfortable with your device. Defibrillating shocks can be disruptive, discomforting, and painful. In fact, most patients rate them about a 6 out of 10 on a pain scale. If you experience 1 shock and feel fine afterward, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
If you are shocked more than once or do not feel well after a shock, call immediately. After a shock, try to maintain a survivorship mentality by reminding yourself that the ICD is there to protect you and that it worked exactly as it should. Table 3. Shock Plan Table 7. Coping with heart failure and living with an ICD can also be distressing for spouses and other family members.
It is common for spouses and caregivers to have even more anxiety and depression than patients. Developing disease and device confidence helps lead to an improved QoL. Other important aspects of QoL confidence include re-engaging in activities and activating emotional and practical help and support. Achieving desirable QoL involves getting back to doing as many of the same enjoyable activities as possible that you engaged in before CHF. This may also be an important opportunity to begin new activities that will help you regain good QoL.
Walking, bicycling, social events with friends, joining a support group for CHF or ICD patients, and hobbies are all examples of activities that may help you regain life satisfaction. Our actions have a tremendous effect on our sense of well-being. Make sure that you talk with your healthcare provider to get specific guidelines on activities that are safe and then make a point of doing them.
Engage your family, friends, and healthcare providers in helping you to live successfully with CHF. Be willing to talk with them about your needs, concerns, and fears.
Managing Congestive Heart Failure | How to Live Longer and Better
The challenges of living with CHF may be greatly reduced by taking advantage of a strong social support network. Get involved in fun and enjoyable activities together. Also, take care of yourself and encourage your spouse or partner to take time to relax and take care of himself or herself as well. It is also important to regain emotional and sexual intimacy with your spouse or partner, particularly if CHF has disrupted these important aspects of your relationship.
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If you did not spend much time activating support before CHF, then make this an opportunity to do so now. Figure 2 provides a summary of key points for successfully managing CHF. It is important to know and believe that you, along with your family, friends, and healthcare team, are equipped to handle this challenge.
Make it a point to develop disease, device, and QoL confidence so that you can live confidently with CHF! Dr Sears serves as a consultant to Medtronic and has had research grants from Medtronic in the past 2 years.