Caring for your loved one with congestive heart failure
Heart failure often develops after other conditions have damaged or weakened your heart. However, the heart doesn’t need to be weakened to cause heart failure. It can also occur if the heart becomes too stiff. Love, Patience’s, and compassion are the first thing we must remember to care for our loved one with congestive heart failure. As a family caregiver, you can help your loved one live a full, happy and productive life with knowledge and a few tips.
What is Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is a condition, where the heart is no longer capable of pumping enough blood throughout the body. When this occurs, the heart is unable to provide adequate blood flow to other organs, such as the brain, liver, and kidneys. The abbreviation for congestive heart failure is CHF. Congestive heart failure may be due to the failure of the right or left ventricle, or both.
It is Important to realize, aging brings along several ailments. In fact, congestive heart failure is one of them. Another key point, it is a common condition that affects about 80% of the geriatric population. The most compelling evidence is that it is a progressive disease. That worsens over time if left untreated.
As a result, congestive heart failure is a silent killer. Under those circumstances, is a much more complicated problem for our aging loved ones. Henceforth, we could see a high number of cases of congestive heart failure amongst the aging population. For this reason, in the US alone, there are about 900,000 hospital admissions every year due to heart failure in seniors. With this in mind, there are various conditions that give rise to congestive heart failure.
Congestive heart failure culprits
- High blood cholesterol
- Overweight or obesity
- Coronary artery disease
- Infections concerning the heart such as endocarditis or myocarditis
- Drug abuse
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Thyroid disorders
- Certain Medications
In addition, the disease trends have shown that congestive heart failure affects more elderly women than men. Not to mention, owing to high rates of hypertension in the former group. It is equally important to understand and recognize the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure. In this case, it becomes very important for timely initiation of treatment.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure
- Unjustified fatigue
- Experiencing breathlessness or shortness of breath during exercise or at rest.
- Your loved one may experience disturbed sleep during the night due to sudden shortness of breath
- Sudden weight gain within 1 – 2 days
- Increased urination, particularly during the night hours
- Bloating and decrease in appetite
- Abdominal pain accompanied by nausea, which is not caused due to gastrointestinal disease, but due to retention of fluid in the liver.
- Symptoms of cold and flu lasts more than a week
Caregivers should carefully take a note of the above symptoms, as the presence of any of these can ring a warning bell that something is seriously wrong with your loved one. Consult a doctor right away if your loved one is feeling uncomfortable or experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms. Timely initiation of treatment ensures better prognosis and can stop the onset of several secondary complications. Most people have stable congestive heart failure but can be resistant when a change occurs to their body. For example, if your loved one with congestive heart failure may be doing well but then develops pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, or suffers a heart attack. Your loved one’s heart may not be able to react to the body’s changing environment and does not have the ability or reserve to meet the body’s energy needs. As well, acute decompensation may occur if the patient drinks excess fluid, has a large intake of salt that can retain water in the body, or forgets to take their routine medication.
Life expectancy and congestive heart failure – what can you expect
The life expectancy rates of your loved ones with congestive heart failure will majorly depend on the stage of the disease. In cases, where the disease has been diagnosed in the preliminary stages, 90% of the patients have a life expectancy rate of 5 years. However, your loved one with advanced heart failure, have a life expectancy rate of just 1 year.
Managing congestive heart failure in your loved one
Congestive heart failure is a debilitating condition, putting your loved one at high risk for several complications. Caring for our loved one with congestive heart failure becomes important to make their life calm and comfortable to slow down the progression of the disease.
The following tips would certainly help the caregivers take better care of their loved one
- Give them plenty of rest.
- Keep them stress-free. Take them for regular walks in the garden and help them with meditation techniques to keep stress at bay.
- Help them stay away from caffeine related drinks
- Stop smoking immediately
- Abstinence from alcohol also becomes a necessity
- Fluid restriction is a must, as their fluid retention leads to weight gain. Follow the doctor’s advice on regulating their fluid intake.
- Hypertension has been ranked as the major cause of congestive heart failure. Therefore, caregivers need to give them foods with less sodium content.
- Give them medications on time and take them for regular visits to the doctor.
- Give them flu shot once every year.
Dietary requirements for congestive heart failure
- #1 Limit salt as much as possible.
- Have plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand.
- Choose fresh foods, including lean meats, fish, poultry, dry and fresh legumes, eggs, milk, yogurt, plain rice, pasta, and oatmeal.
- Avoid can, processed or packaged foods
- Choose lower-sodium snacks
- Replace the salt shaker with a sodium-free blend of herbs.
- Omit salt from recipes. Use fresh herbs, onion, garlic, citrus and other fruit juices, and vinegar to add flavor.
- Check all condiments for salt content.
- While dining out, remind the waiter of your salt intake and ask for salt not to put into the meal. Most restaurants have salt restricted menus
All these tips should certainly help the caregivers take better care of their seniors with congestive heart failure.