Congestive heart failure is a scary term. The words sound like your heart has stopped working; however, this is not the case. This condition is serious and common in people over the age of 65. It refers to a condition resulting in your heart not pumping correctly and not fully supporting your body's needs. There is medicine available to treat this condition along with ways for you to adjust your lifestyle to make congestive heart failure more manageable.
If you or a loved one are suffering from congestive heart failure and are experiencing difficulties with everyday activities, there is a solution for you. Mom's Home Care is a congestive heart failure care company offering highly trained and qualified staff that can provide the care you need. We are a fully licensed home care company which provides care to our patients just as we would to our own family members.
What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure happens when your body experiences a reduction in blood flow to your full body's system. It also is a result of congestion or fluids backing up in your lungs, lower extremities, liver, and abdomen. You can experience weakness or shortness of breath which may indicate failure of your heart; however, this doesn't mean it's congestive unless the fluids are also backing up in your organs or extremities.
If you suffer congestive heart failure it means your heart will:
- Begin stretching and contracting more in order to pump blood. When your heart becomes enlarged from this action, your body starts to retain fluids. These fluids then become congested in your lungs, and your heart begins to beat irregularly.
- Pump faster to increase its output
- Will divert blood away from other organs and tissues. This diversion means taking blood from your brain, heart, and kidneys.
- Will develop more muscle mass as it works harder to pump more strongly
Is Your Whole Heart Damaged with Congestive Heart Failure?
Both the left and right side of your heart can be affected with congestive heart failure. Generally, the left side will show effects first as the left ventricle is the larger of the two and provides most of the normal functions. The left side of your heart works harder, and when it fails, it can be broken down into two forms:
- Diastolic failure occurs when your left ventricle becomes stiff not allowing your heart to fill with blood correctly during its resting period between beats
- Systolic failure happens when your left ventricle cannot contract normally not allowing the force needed to complete a beat thus reducing adequate circulation
Right-sided congestive heart failure happens because the left side is not performing adequately. If the left ventricle is not properly working, it will cause fluid pressure to transfer back through your lungs. This pressure results in increased stress and damage to the right side of your heart. If your right ventricle is not pumping correctly, you will experience blood back up in your veins which causes congestion in your legs, gastrointestinal tract, liver, and ankles.
Stages of Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive Heart Failure is classified into four stages. Stage one is the determination your heart has a weakness, but you are not experiencing symptoms. Stage two shows damage to your heart, and you are required to reduce your workload. Stage three will need you to restrict many everyday activities and stage four results in severe symptoms even when you are sitting quietly with no physical activity.
Depending on the stage your congestive heart failure is in, you may experience these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid build-up in your legs, ankles, and feet
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pains
- Rapid weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating or alertness decreasing
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- A persistent cough often containing white or blood-tinged mucus
- Increase in nighttime urination
Some or all of these symptoms may be present depending on your underlying reason for developing congestive heart failure. It will also depend on which side of your heart is affected or if both the right and left are failing.
If your condition was caught early enough, you have a better prognosis than if discovered after a considerable amount of damage to your heart has occurred. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate half of those diagnosed with congestive heart failure will live beyond five years.
Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
Certain lifestyle habits can contribute to developing congestive heart failure including:
- A diet that consists of too much salt, fat, or foods high in cholesterol
- Being over your recommended weight
- Not being physically active
- Sleep apnea
- Alcohol abuse
There are also diseases that can affect or damage your heart which makes your risk of congestive heart failure higher:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attacks
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Congenital disabilities in the heart
High Blood Pressure also known as hypertension forces your heart to work harder than what is considered normal to circulate your blood throughout your body.
Heart attacks leave scar tissue on your heart. This tissue interferes with your hearts performance and makes it harder to perform the circulation of your blood.
Coronary Heart Disease is perhaps the most common cause of congestive heart failure. This disease narrows your arteries and the amount of blood supplied to your heart muscle.
Congenital disabilities or congenital heart disease one is born with can result in parts of your heart having to work harder than others. The extra strain placed on these parts can lead to congestive heart failure.
Cardiomyopathy is damage to your heart muscle and can be the result of infections, alcohol abuse, drugs, or other diseases. This damage to your heart muscle can lead to congestive heart failure.
Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat which may make your heart beat too fast. This faster beat can weaken your heart and not allow it to pump enough blood to all parts of your body.
Obesity or severe over-weight condition causes your heart to work harder than is usual. This condition can cause cardiomyopathy.
Anemia is when you experience excessive blood loss. The blood loss can result in congestive heart failure.
Diagnosis for Congestive Heart Failure
A doctor will need to perform a physical examination and look at your complete medical history in determining if you suffer from congestive heart failure. They may require a blood test to find out if your kidneys, liver, or thyroid functions are showing any signs of damage. There is also a chemical called N-terminal proB.
Chest X-rays can also show images of your internal organs, bones, and tissues so your doctor can rule out other possible reasons for your symptoms. If congestive heart failure is present, the x-ray will show your heart enlarged and fluid buildup in your lungs.
Your doctor may ask you to perform a stress test to measure your heart and blood vessel’s response to exertion. This test shows the doctor how your body responds when your heart's ability to pump has decreased. Stress tests can be done by walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. These machines are attached to an ECG machine to monitor your heart's rhythm. A stress test can also be performed by intravenously injecting a drug to stimulate your heart in a similar way to exercise.
An EKG (electrocardiogram) will show the doctor your heart rhythm and indicate if there are any irregularities. This test can also display any damage to your heart that may have been caused by a previous heart attack. The analysis is performed by taping wires to your body which creates a tracing of your heart's electrical rhythm.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) creates a strong magnetic field around you and shows your doctor the structure of your heart. Through this test, your physician can determine if your heart has been damaged from a previous heart attack or if there is scar tissue on your heart.
Angiogram or cardiac catheterization involves inserting a small tube into a blood vessel of your upper thigh or arm. The catheter (small tube) goes through the aorta and into your coronary artery. By injecting a dye through the catheter and into your arteries, your doctor can see if there are any blockages.
How Home Care Can Help
Home care providers are trained to recognize the process of congestive heart failure. They understand the symptoms and know how to help you make healthy choices to slow this disease. The home care providers will help you with strategies to manage the disease and prevent hospitalizations.
With congestive heart failure, you may find performing routine daily tasks more difficult. The caregivers at Mom's Home Care can reduce your stress by performing these tasks for you or with you. Walking for long distances or climbing stairs can be challenging if your condition is causing shortness in breath. Home care providers can be there for you to complete errands or shopping duties.
If a fluid is building up in your legs or ankles, it may be painful to walk and stressful knowing you cannot complete tasks. Home care providers can help you complete tasks such as mailing letters and packages, picking up medications, taking laundry to the cleaners, shopping for new clothing or furniture, and many other services. They are available to help you with personal projects and will do so with complete respect and integrity.
Living with Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is a frustrating and stressful disease as it takes away your ability to function as you once were able to. You can find help; however, in learning how to control the progress of this illness and with everyday tasks you need to be completed. Mom's Home Care is there for you to help prepare healthier diets, maintain your home, complete shopping trips and make sure you take medications when needed.
Salt or sodium will cause your body to retain fluids in the tissues. Home care providers can help you create a meal plan to reduce or eliminate your salt intake. They are also there to help with any exercises your doctor recommends. Home care workers will follow your individual needs and understand your tolerance levels as they help you improve your overall ability to exercise and improve your heart's performance.
Medical Options to Treat Congestive Heart Failure
If your doctor has suggested a treatment to reduce the fluids in your system, they may have prescribed diuretic medications. A home care professional can help to make sure these medications are taken on time. A diuretic medicine is usually accompanied with your need to reduce your salt intake and restrict your fluids. Home care workers will help to keep you on track with these restrictions to help reduce the fluids within your body.
Other medications available include an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker to help your heart pump more effectively. You might also be prescribed with a beta blocker to control your heart rate and increase your heart's ability to pump blood throughout your body. Home care professionals are able to transport you to and from medical appointments if you need your condition monitored, or prescriptions renewed.
Achieving and maintaining your optimal health is the Mom's Home Care professional's top priority. They will be there for you to help in daily activities, prepare healthy meals, perform light house-cleaning duties, ensure medications are kept up-to-date and taken when prescribed, escort you to and from events, and help you with many other everyday functions.
Receiving Congestive Heart Failure Home Care Near Me
Mom's Home Care will help you or a loved one deal with the day to day care for symptoms of congestive heart failure. Our quality assurance program provides you or family member with the highest possible standards in a home care program. Clients with Mom's Home Care feel secure and know they can depend on our service to meet all their needs.
Call us at 323-244-4789 to discuss the quality of services our professional caregivers can provide for you or for someone you love. You can also look through our website to see full details on the care services available.