What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation Like
Cardiac rehab usually includes several factors, such as:
- Exercise counseling. Youll receive information on how to exercise safely with heart failure, including signs youre overworking your heart or can work harder.
- Risk factor counseling. Some lifestyle factors increase your risk for heart failure worsening. These include smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and poor nutritional choices. Cardiac rehab includes information on how to minimize your risk factors to improve your health.
- Stress reduction counseling. Stress is another aspect that can have ill effects on your heart. Cardiac rehabilitation focuses on stress reduction techniques to help you live better with heart failure.
Both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend cardiac rehab as a class I recommendation for heart failure treatment, according to the 2021 research mentioned earlier.
Class I recommendations are those that have been well-researched and proven likely to be beneficial.
However, there are times when a person with heart failure should not participate in cardiac rehab since the exercise could worsen their heart failure. This is true in the following instances:
Its important to carefully evaluate with a doctor if you are a good candidate for cardiac rehab. You should make an appointment to speak with one as soon as you can after a heart attack. If you are a good candidate, cardiac rehab can likely help you improve your quality of life.
Living With Congestive Heart Failure: What To Expect
Yes, there are several lifestyle changes you should take into account if youve been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. But remember your diagnosis doesnt mean you should necessarily stop doing things you love.
You are supposed to be exercising walking, biking, swimming, or doing light weight exercises, says Mountis. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity at least five days a week for optimal heart health. Avoid exercises that make you feel breathless, and make sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Your healthcare provider will also likely suggest dietary changes that can help reduce the swelling associated with congestive heart failure and slow the progression of the condition. Those changes may include following a low- or reduced-salt diet, or reducing how much fluid you drink to lessen the bodys water content.
Other lifestyle changes that can slow the progression of heart failure include:
What Is Heart Failure Causes Symptoms Risk Factors And Treatments
Heart failure happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in your body. Heart failure is a serious condition, but it does not mean that the heart has stopped beating. Although it can be a severe disease, heart failure is not a death sentence, and treatment is now better than ever.
When this happens, blood and fluid may back up into the lungs , and some parts of the body dont get enough oxygen-rich blood to work normally. These problems lead to the symptoms of heart failure.
Heart failure develops because the heart muscle becomes weak or loses the ability to pump normally. The Ejection Fraction is a percent that lets us know how the heart is squeezing . If the heart isnt “squeezing” well to get enough blood to your body, you have heart failure with a reduced ejection fraction . If the heart can’t “relax” to fill with enough blood between contractions, you have heart failure with preserved ejection fraction . Heart muscle weakening and damage is often called cardiomyopathy, which literally means “heart muscle disease.”
Also Check: Is Pulse Rate And Heart Rate The Same Thing
Left Ventricular Assist Devices
These may be implanted in the chest to increase heart pumping action. Until recently, LVADs required that the patient be hooked up to a large, hospital-based console while awaiting a transplant. Miniaturized battery-powered LVAD units, however, are allowing many patients to leave the hospital. The devices may be used as a primary treatment or as a bridge to heart transplant in adults.
Heart Disease And Diet
The most effective method for reversing heart disease is through a healthy diet, so these nutrition tips are key. Lets take a look at a few of the main nutrients connected to cardiovascular health and how they can help you prevent and reverse heart disease.
Too much sodium in the diet can cause hypertension and can also cause the body to hold onto excess fluid. This forces the heart to work harder, and it can lead to heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.
Most of the sodium in our diet comes from restaurants and fast food as well as processed, frozen, and canned foods.
Youve probably been advised at some point to limit your intake of eggs and red meat because of their cholesterol content. Not to be confused with the cholesterol found in the bloodstream, dietary cholesterol has had an undeservedly bad reputation for years.
Nutrition scientists are in agreement, however, that consumption of dietary cholesterol has little effect on your levels of blood cholesterol .
In fact, the recently published 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines removed the previous recommendation to limit the consumption of cholesterol.
That means you have the green light to go ahead and enjoy that omelet.
Saturated fat has long been tied to heart health. Dairy foods and meats are the main culprits when it comes to saturated fat. Studies have shown that reducing the intake of saturated fat can cut heart disease risk, but what you replace it with is crucial.
Recommended Reading: How Low Does Heart Rate Go When Sleeping
How Is Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosed
Patients will typically have an intake visit with a heart specialist and nurse or physicians assistant. During this visit, a review of the patients prior records and his or her current health status is incorporated to establish a picture of where the patient is along the spectrum, and then a plan is established for prognosis and treatment.
The process often takes more than one meeting and involves both the patients local cardiologist or referring physician.
How To Stay Safe
Hospitalization for a heart failure exacerbation could be especially tricky in the pandemic, particularly in areas where health systems are already strained. There are a number of ways you can keep your heart failure in check and avoid getting COVID-19:
- Make sure you are up to date on all of your vaccinations, including influenza and pneumonia vaccines.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you can stay in touch with them through virtual or telehealth appointments to limit your exposure.
- Discuss the necessity of certain health screenings or nonessential procedures with your practitioner.
- Make sure you keep a list of your current medications and doses with you at all times.
- Keep at least a 30-day supply of your medications on hand.
- Stay active and find ways to reduce stress while keeping social distancing recommendations in mind.
- Wear a mask.
Don’t Miss: Heart Rate Workout Zones
Congestive Heart Failure: The 4 Stages Symptoms And Causes
Heart failure on its own without context just sounds dire. And while its obviously serious, there is a lot more to know about it. For example, there are various stages of congestive heart failure, and they mean different things in terms of treatment and outlook.
To help clear up any misconceptions from this scary-sounding medical term, lets take a closer look at what congestive heart failure is, its main symptoms, and what to expect if a doctor has diagnosed you. Well also give you some tips on how to manage it to maximize your quality of life
Talk With Your Healthcare Provider About Improving Your Ef
Your healthcare provider can help you draft a realistic plan. What works for another person, may not be right for you. Ask your doctor or other healthcare provider for his or her recommendations, and accept the encouragement and support of family members or friends who can help you reach your goals.
Before you decide on your next steps, first discuss the following questions with your healthcare provider:
- What is my EF?
- Why is my EF low and how does it affect my health?
- Which lifestyle changes or medications are likely to help me? Is there anything I should avoid?
- If I track my heart failure symptoms, how might that help improve my outcome?
- When should I plan to retest my EF?
Read Also: How To Treat Suspected Heart Attack
What Causes Heart Failure
Cardiomyopathy is the general term for a heart that is enlarged or damaged by one of several diseases. Cardiomyopathy can be caused by coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, viral or bacterial infections that attack the heart, drugs that damage the heart muscle, prolonged alcohol abuse, some metabolic diseases, as well as other causes.
Coronary Artery Disease is the most common cause of Heart Failure. CAD is a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Cholesterol deposits clog the arteries, decreasing the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. This can weaken the heart muscle. Opening the arteries may improve Heart Failure. CAD can result in a myocardial infarction or heart attack. A heart attack occurs when plaque and clotting cause a complete blockage in a coronary artery. The heart muscle that was receiving blood from the blocked artery dies, causing permanent muscle damage. An enlarged heart from CAD or from a prior heart attack may be referred to as ischemic cardiomyopathy. Six out of every seven patients hospitalized with Heart Failure have a history of coronary artery disease, and three out of four have a history of high blood pressure.
Other conditions some of which are temporary and treatable, can cause Heart Failure. These include:
- Unknown causes
What Can You Do If You Have Heart Failure
Heart Failure is a serious disorder and is usually a chronic illness. Many forms of Heart Failure can be controlled with medication, lifestyle change and correction of any underlying disorder. The success of your treatment plan depends on your active involvement. Following your treatment plan can make you feel better, prevent your Heart Failure from getting worse and help you live longer.
What you can do:
Read Also: Which Of These Will Increase The Heart Rate
Healing The Heart: From Heart Failure To Recovery
Sometimes a story hits your right in the heart. Matt Foggs experience with battling chronic heart failure to eventually overcoming it is one of those.
Typically, when patients receive a left ventricular assist device , it serves as either a bridge to transplant, or as a lifetime therapy if the patient is not a candidate for transplantation. But one Brigham and Womens Hospital patient became the hospitals first chronic implant patient in recent years to successfully recover heart function with targeted therapy and, ultimately, have the device removed.
When Fogg, now 24, arrived at the Brigham two years ago, he was suffering from heart failure. His heart was so damaged that it was unable to provide enough blood to his organs. After Matt had received care at the Brigham for a month, cardiologist Dr. Eldrin Lewis of the Center for Advanced Heart Disease advocated for him to have an LVAD implanted. Given that Matt was so young, we thought he would do well on an LVAD, says Lewis.
At the time, the Center had just begun to systematically study whether some patients eventually may be able to have an LVAD removed. The goal, in cases where heart failure was reversible, was to use the LVAD for a short time to recover heart function and then remove it.
Matt Fogg became Brigham and Womens Hospitals first chronic implant patient in recent years to successfully recover heart function with targeted therapy and, ultimately, have the LVAD removed.
What Is The Prognosis And Life Expectancy For Congestive Heart Failure
- The degree to which other organ systems are involved and the severity of other accompanying conditions
- The persons symptoms and degree of impairment
- Other factors that remain poorly understood
With the availability of newer drugs to potentially favorably affect the progression of the disease, the prognosis in congestive heart failure is generally more favorable than that observed just 10 years ago. In some cases, especially when the heart muscle dysfunction has recently developed, a significant spontaneous improvement is not uncommonly observed, even to the point where heart function becomes normal.
Heart failure is often graded on a scale of I to IV based on the patients ability to function.
The prognosis of heart failure patients is very closely associated with the functional class.
An important issue in congestive heart failure is the risk of heart rhythm disturbances . Of those deaths that occur in individuals with congestive heart failure, approximately 50% are related to progressive heart failure. Importantly, the other half are thought to be related to serious arrhythmias.
You May Like: Is Aspirin Good For Heart Palpitations
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Failure
It is very important for you to manage your other health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, anemia, high blood pressure, thyroid disease and asthma or chronic lung disease. Some conditions have signs and symptoms that are similar to heart failure. If you have new or worsening non-urgent symptoms, tell your healthcare provider.
Complications Of Heart Failure And Covid
People with heart failure are at a greater risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. One study found that among patients who were hospitalized with a COVID-19 infection, there was a 50% mortality rate among those with pre-existing heart failure compared with a mortality rate of 10% in individuals without heart failure.
Treatment for COVID-19 can also lead to serious complications for people with heart failure due to several contributing factors:
- Breathing can be difficult for people with heart failure even without a COVID-19 infection. Fluid can accumulate in the body, particularly in the lungs, since blood that can’t be pumped throughout the body causes a backup. This can further reduce the much-needed oxygen supply in people with heart failure. Additionally, COVID-19 usually results in pneumonia and decreased movement of oxygen across the cells in the lung to the bloodstream.
- As COVID-19 and heart failure create difficulty for the body to breathe and pump blood, a person’s chances of requiring mechanical ventilation increase. This may seem like the fix. However, especially for people with heart failure, there has been evidence that the high pressure required to support the breathing of people with COVID-19 on mechanical ventilation can further increase pressure in the pulmonary vessels. This creates even greater strainand damageto the heart.
- Severe COVID-19 infection has also been known to cause kidney damage, which can further increase the workload of the heart.
Recommended Reading: Can Antihistamines Cause Heart Palpitations
Medicines For Congestive Heart Failure
In many cases, drugs can alleviate the consequences of CHF. Managing heart failure with medicine is a time-tested strategy that has helped people live better lives for years.
Every medicine has side effects and risks, but the risks are usually not as serious as leaving CHF untreated. Never stop taking medications without talking to your doctor.
Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors
- How does it work?
- Block a hormone that increases blood pressure and worsens heart failure.
- Regulate blood pressure to improve cardiac function.
Heart Failure And Covid
People with a pre-existing heart problem like heart failure are about 10% to 20% more likely to experience severe illness from COVID-19 compared to people with healthy hearts. They are also more likely to get much sicker and even die because of COVID-19.
Research has shown that people who have a history of heart failure who are hospitalized for COVID-19 are nearly twice as likely to die than those who don’t. COVID-19 patients with heart failure had hospital stays averaging about two days longer than those without the condition, and they were twice as likely to require mechanical ventilation.
Also Check: How To Bring Heart Rate Down
What Is Nitric Oxide
Nitric Oxide is a simple molecule made up of two atoms one is nitrogen and the other is oxygen, in biology NO is a simple structure but it is now known that Nitric Oxide is of major importance to our very being, it is a vasodilator and controls and regulates the flow of blood around our cardiovascular system.
Nitric oxide is found in our bodies as well as the cardiovascular and nervous systems, it is so powerful that it penetrates the bodys membranes and sends rather specific biological messages or signals that regulate activity at a cellular level that tells our bodies to carry out certain functions.
Recommended Reading: Ibs And Heart Palpitations
How Does A Healthy Heart Work
The heart is a muscle about the size of your fist. The hearts job is to pump blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, to all parts of your body. The left ventricle is the main pumping chamber. In a normal heart, the left ventricle ejects 50% or more of its blood volume out into circulation. This percentage is called the ejection fraction or EF.
- Heart Failure is not a disease.
- Heart Failure is the name used to describe a set of symptoms.
- Heart Failure is caused by diseases that affect the ability of the heart to pump blood.
You May Like: What Is An Impending Heart Attack