Hearing a diagnosis of congestive heart failure may be frightening, but it is important to remember that this is a fairly common diagnosis for seniors and with proper knowledge and management, there is no reason that this diagnosis should have an impact on a senior’s ability to enjoy an active, productive and energetic quality of life.
What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure, CHF, is a diagnosis that means your heart is no longer strong enough to pump an adequate volume of blood through your body. Your weakened heart is not able to pump the blood that your body needs in order to function properly, which can lead to swelling of the extremities, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and sudden heart failure.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
There are many symptoms that could indicate congestive heart failure, but these symptoms can also be an indication of other health concerns so it is important if your aging loved one begins experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, or they occur suddenly, that you immediately contact his physician and discuss them so that he can get an appropriate diagnosis.
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe breathlessness, particularly at night
- Poor circulation
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Swelling of the hands, legs or feet
- Decreased clotting of the blood
- Exercise intolerance
- Being easily fatigued
Treatments of CHF
There are many different ways that congestive heart failure can be treated. The goal of such treatment is to prevent the lungs filling with fluid and sudden heart failure. The course of treatment that is devised by the physician will be based on the specific symptoms that an individual patient is experiencing, as well as any other medical conditions that he may suffer. Common medications that are prescribed for the management of CHF include diuretics, beta blockers, vasodilators and drugs to thin the blood so it is easier for the heart to pump. Patients will also be given the dietary guidelines including restricting fluid intake and sodium. Both of these will help prevent the body from retaining fluid which will place additional strain on the heart.
Patients are likely to be required to take daily weights while managing CHF. Because congestive heart failure can rapidly worsen, it is important to detect retention of fluid as early as possible. Taking daily weights will allow the patient to detect a sudden increase in weight so that a physician can be alerted and proper measures can be taken to control the development of the disease.
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