We only have one, and it’s arguably the most fundamental organ in our bodies – so hearing from our doctor that our heart is “failing” is distressing. Congestive heart failure impacts approximately 6 million individuals in the United States alone, according to research by the CDC, and although it’s a chronic illness, there are actions people can take to slow the advancement and manage the effects. Learn how home care services can help seniors living with CHF thrive below.
What Can Cause CHF?
Essentially, CHF is the result of a weakening of the heart from conditions such as:
- Heart attack
- Coronary heart disease
- Cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscle)
- Malfunctioning heart valves
- Congenital heart defects
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
- Heart arrhythmias
- Thyroid disease
- And various other chronic illnesses
What Are the Stages of CHF?
There are 4 main stages of CHF:
Individuals at risk for developing CHF due to high blood pressure, diabetes, or early coronary artery disease are considered to be in the early stage of the disease. At this stage, changes in lifestyle are important to prevent CHF from developing. This might include medication, exercise, and dietary changes.
In this stage, there is some indication of changes to the heart that could lead to CHF. There might have been a preceding heart attack or heart valve disease, or elevated blood pressure could be diminishing heart health. Treatment options include the lifestyle modifications for Stage A, combined with potential surgical procedures or other treatment for heart valve disease, heart attack, or artery blockage.
Stage C is the first stage in which CHF is technically diagnosed. Observable symptoms include puffiness in the legs, difficulty breathing (including after awakening or rising from lying down), and the lack of ability to exercise. Cardiac rehab and medications can help enhance quality and duration of life for those in Stage C.
When a person arrives at Stage D, treatments include a heart transplant or mechanical heart pump. It’s crucial to see a heart specialist as soon as possible upon obtaining a diagnosis of Stage D CHF to determine the most effective treatment plan.
How Can a Person Live With Congestive Heart Failure?
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests moderately strenuous aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week, for maximum heart health. Still, it is important to check with the doctor for specific recommendations. In particular, exercise shouldn’t result in breathlessness for individuals with CHF.
Other worthwhile lifestyle modifications to slow the advancement of CHF include:
- Implementing a low- or reduced-salt diet
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Keeping blood pressure levels in check
- Getting enough sleep
- Decreasing stress
How In-Home Care Can Help Someone With CHF
A skilled care provider can make a world of difference in the quality of life for a loved one with CHF. A few of the many ways they can assist include:
- Trips to pick up groceries and preparing heart-healthy meals
- Providing transportation to doctor appointments
- Encouraging and motivating the senior to keep up with a fitness program
- Ensuring medications are taken exactly how and when they have been prescribed
- Offering friendly companionship to alleviate loneliness and isolation
- And much more
Contact Morning Glory Home Care’s experts in Highland senior care at 618-667-8400 to find out more about how our award-winning in-home care services can make every day the best it can be for seniors living with CHF. To view a full list of the communities we serve, visit our Service Area page.