Treatment Methods for Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a progressive condition which affects the heart muscle’s performance. Often referred to as heart failure, CHF is the specific stage in which the heart pumps ineffectively due to fluid buildup around the heart. The ventricles is the heart chamber responsible for pumping blood to the organs and tissues and when they don’t work properly, the blood and other fluids can back up inside the lungs, abdomen, liver, or lower body.

A normal treatment plan for congestive heart failure would include:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications
  • Devices and surgical procedures
  • Ongoing care by the healthcare team and caregivers

To treat and manage CHF, the following lifestyle changes will make a big impact:

1. Physical exercise
To improve cardiovascular health, doing aerobic activity for 20-30 minutes a day, 5 days a week is advised. Exercises to try include fast walking, jogging, jumping rope, rowing, skiing, and low impact water aerobics. It improves the way oxygen is used by the body and has a positive impact on the health of the heart. In case of injury then activities that avoid the injured muscle group or joint should be pursued to help maintain physical function while recovering.

2. Quit smoking
When you quit smoking, even if it is for a few hours, the blood pressure and heart rate drop considerably. This helps improve symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue due to congestive heart failure. It is said that the risk of a heart attack and stroke is reduced by half in the first year of quitting itself.

3. Low sodium diet
A diet that is low in salt and other forms of sodium is advised. The amount of sodium in any form is advised to be no more than 2000 mg (maximum) per day. A low salt diet helps to control blood pressure and swelling (known as edema). It also helps to ease breathing problems due to congestive heart failure. Fresh and frozen vegetables, like greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc, fresh and frozen or dried fruits like berries, apples, bananas, pears, etc and grains and beans like dried beans, brown rice, farro, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta are a few foods that are low in sodium.

4. Weight loss
Cardiovascular health improves greatly with weight loss and reduces the risk of complications related to obesity. But unintentional weight loss is a serious complication of heart failure, especially in severe cases. Even dropping as few as 10 pounds can help to lower the risk of heart disease. It would decrease joint and muscle pain, regulate blood pressure and reduce the burden on the heart and circulatory system which helps in quality sleep.

Whatever be the treatment approach for congestive heart failure, it is necessary to strictly follow the doctor’s recommendations and make changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle accordingly. This would give the patient suffering from congestive heart failure the highest possible quality of life. Treatment would sometimes include eating less salt, limiting fluid intake and taking medications that have been prescribed. In some cases, a defibrillator or pacemaker would be implanted if necessary. The severity of the disease dictates the type of treatment.