Congestive Heart Failure


What Is It?

Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn't pump blood as well as it should. Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave your heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently.
Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help you live longer. Lifestyle changes — such as exercising, reducing sodium in your diet, managing stress and losing weight — can improve your quality of life.

Heart Failure Signs and Symptoms

Heart failure can be ongoing (chronic), or your condition may start suddenly (acute). Heart failure signs and symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when you exert yourself or when you lie down
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
  • Increased need to urinate at night
  • Swelling of your abdomen (ascites)
  • Very rapid weight gain from fluid retention
  • Lack of appetite and nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness
  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus
  • Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack

What can you do at home for Heart Failure?

  1. Stop smoking.
  2. Discuss weight monitoring with your doctor.
  3. Check your legs, ankles, and feet for swelling daily.
  4. Eat a healthy diet.
  5. Restrict sodium in your diet.
  6. Maintain a healthy weight.
  7. Consider getting vaccinations.
  8. Limit saturated or 'trans' fats in your diet.

How can we help our clients with Heart Failure?

We provide help with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. The Home Health Aide can develop and prepare heart healthy meals (including shopping for groceries) that comply with your prescribed dietary regimen. Also, Home Health Aides can assist with light housekeeping and light laundry.

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