Congestive heart failure, or CHF, is a condition where a person’s heart is not capable of functioning adequately. This is obviously a serious illness, and catching symptoms early can make a big difference in outcomes. There are many ways to prevent CHF in most cases, although depending on the cause, it can be difficult to avoid. In any case, CHF rehab and other measures can help people control their conditions and achieve better results.
Why is CHF so serious?
If the heart is not working at regular capacity, blood won’t be pumped fast enough to bring vital stores of oxygen to all of the organs to work effectively. It also won’t be able to bring blood back to the heart in a reasonable time, and water may begin to leak out of the vessels. As the heart becomes weaker and the organs don’t work to capacity, a person may experience various warning symptoms which could ultimately result in the heart or other organs shutting down.
Causes of CHF
The leading cause of CHF is cardiovascular disease. This is an umbrella term for many heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart arrhythmias, and congenital heart defects. Some of these causes are congenital, or come with birth, and others are lifestyle-related and can be managed. In coronary artery disease, which can usually be managed, the vessels get too filled and blood can barely squeeze by.
Other causes of CHF might be:
Hypertension (high blood pressure) – Where the blood beats too strongly against the walls of the vessels.
Alcohol dependancy – Abusing alcohol long-term can weaken the heart muscles, causing cardiomyopathy and leading to heart failure.
Idiopathic causes – There may be no known cause, and then doctors have to watch carefully and recommend treatment.
Viral heart infections – Also known as myocarditis, a virus that gets into the heart can slow or stop muscles and become very dangerous. This, unfortunately, can happen to anyone, like any other kind of virus. It usually goes away on its own and the patient may not even know he had it, and other times the patient may get ill but will easily recover with no intervention. In rare cases, it can cause heart damage which will need to be repaired.
Symptoms of CHF
It’s important to watch out for symptoms of this deadly disease, especially for people who have risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, or a sedentary lifestyle. While they don’t have to, they often come together, signifying a main problem. Some of these include:
- Shortness of breath, even with only slight activity
- Fatigue, for no particular reason
- Edema, or swelling around the legs or other areas
- Rapid heartbeat for no reason. Could also be an irregular heartbeat.
Getting CHF rehab
Lifestyle changes can make a big difference for most of the causes of CHF, while others may require surgery or monitoring.
CHF rehab, in the form of a cardiac rehab program, will give patients the education and tools they need to make those changes and beat the disease.
At the Alameda Center, we have a full cardiac rehab program that teaches patients proper nutrition and exercise to manage their condition on an outpatient basis. Our expert staff is experienced and dedicated, and they’ll be with you every step of the way.