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Living With Congestive Heart Failure

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Data Abstraction And Synthesis

Living a Full Life with Congestive Heart Failure

An initial literature search and a process of snowballing delivered a set of 65 references. Of these, 42 were reviewed by the first author using titles and abstracts and were identified as relevant using inclusion/exclusion criteria. Another research team member then retrieved and read the full-text articles to confirm the relevance of each, deeming 12 more to be irrelevant . The remaining 30 articles were summarised by SK using a template noting referencing information, study setting, sample characteristics, study design and methods, key findings, barriers/facilitators to the management of CHF and recommendations. The summaries were then imported into QSR NVivo7, a useful data management tool for large scale text information . The summaries of the final 30 papers were reviewed by YHJ, and a coding scheme comprising 70 thematic codes was compiled with definitions for each concept. Each article was then coded with this scheme by SK.

Next, all 30 articles were read again by Y-HJ, SK and TJ, and the thematic codes were discussed and rearranged. During this process it became clear that the experiences of people with CHF found in those 30 articles could be encapsulated under the following three questions, which appropriately encompassed all of the thematic codes:

  • 1.

    What can be deduced about the common impacts of CHF on a person’s everyday life?

  • 2.

    What can be deduced about the common patterns of coping strategies people living with CHF develop and utilise? and

  • How I Turned It Around

    I minimized my fast-food intake and added more vegetables to my diet. Instead of going to the bar and hanging out with the fellas, Iâd go to this place in Detroit called The Water Station, where Iâd learn about proper hydration and the negatives of dehydration. I also started walking, jogging, and running at a local high school track every day.

    One morning, I faced the mirror and realized I didnât have a beer gut anymore. I weighed around 195.

    My primary care physician was amazed. She said, âNow that youâre out of the storm, so to speak, I have to admit I didnât think you were going to make it. Most of my patients at the point you were donât get themselves out of it.â

    How To Keep Heart Failure From Worsening

    To keep heart failure from worsening, a patient must make major changes in their life: Theyll need to eat differently, remember to take their medications, keep as active as possible, and reduce stress. Some of these changes might require breaking habits acquired over many years. As a caregiver, you can help your loved one maximize their quality and length of life. Below are some ways to help.

    Keep alert for worsening symptoms. Call the doctor immediately if you observe any of the following:

    • Sudden weight gain
    • Increased swelling in the legs or ankles
    • Shortness of breath while at rest
    • A dry, hacking cough or wheezing
    • Dizzy or fainting spells
    • Increased fatigue or feeling unwell all the time
    • Abdominal pain or swelling

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    Make The Most Of Doctors Appointments

    Most patients have a lot of visits to different doctors. To get the most out of appointments, bring a notebook. One of the most important aspects of managing congestive heart failure is keeping track of symptoms, medication side effects, and other concerns. Writing down this information in a notebook will help you and the person in your care stay on top of any changes in their condition.

    Other tips to get the most out of appointments include:

    • Prepare a list of questions before each visit. Leave spaces for the answers.
    • Take notes during the appointment. If either of you doesnt understand something, dont be afraid to ask for an explanation.
    • If the person youre caring for isnt following treatment or lifestyle recommendations, make sure the doctor knows it. Trying to protect them isnt in their best interest.
    • Do your best to understand all the doctors instructions before you leave, but dont hesitate to call the office if you have questions later.

    Emotional Symptoms Towards The End Of Life

    Living With Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

    People with heart failure may experience different emotions and feelings. They may feel:

    • up and down, with good days and bad days
    • like they lack control over their life
    • like it’s hard to cope with the reactions of others.

    People may not think heart failure is as serious as other illnesses, such as cancer. Patients with heart failure can look well even when they feel very ill.

    If a patient has anxiety or depression, their healthcare team will assess how it affects them and whether they need treatment, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or medication.

    You can support the patient by providing emotional care and helping them with activities to make them feel better, such as reading, going outside and listening to music or audio books. Find out more about providing emotional care.

    Also Check: How To Test Resting Heart Rate

    Comparison With Chronic Haemodialysis And With Chronic Hepatitis C

    No significant differences were observed between the patients on chronic haemodialysis and the total heart failure sample .). As shown in fig 11,, the patients with congestive heart failure showed the same pattern of reduced quality of life as patients on chronic haemodialysis. In contrast, patients with chronic hepatitis C had higher scores in physical functioning, role functioning physical, and general health than the heart failure population .). Thus the pattern of reduced quality of life in patients with chronic hepatitis C was significantly different from that in the heart failure sample .

    What Changes Should I Make After A Heart Failure Diagnosis

    If you’ve been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, you and your doctor will work on a plan of medications and diet that will cut down on the fluid buildup in your body. This will make it easier for your heart to do its job. A low-salt diet is key to this goal as well, and a registered dietitian can teach you how to modify your food and meal choices.

    Once a patient has developed heart failure, one of the key components of management is dietary modifications, Dr. Rao explained. The more sodium we consume, the more likely a heart failure patient is to have fluid retention, and this is what often leads to the heart failure admissions and worse outcomes.

    We try to focus on foods that are low in sodium. I often tell patients to focus not on eating foods such as TV dinners, canned soups and try not to use the salt shaker, which is very difficult to do, but ultimately will make a big difference for the patient in the long run.

    Most patients can even continue to exercise or begin a new exercise routine. For people living with congestive heart failure, the American Heart Association suggests gradually working up to 30 minutes of exercise a day, or whatever your doctor recommends. At the same time, you’ll have to be careful not to overdo it. Your doctor can help you find an exercise routine that’s right for you.

    HealthDay News contributed information to this article.

    Don’t Miss: Symptoms Congestive Heart Failure

    How Do Doctors Diagnose Congestive Heart Failure

    Heart failure is diagnosed with a physical exam and tests that may include:

    • Electrocardiogram to measure the electrical activity in the heart
    • Brain natriuretic peptide or N-terminal pro-BNP blood tests
    • BNP or NT-proBNP level is high in people with heart failure
  • Chest X-ray to check for fluid in the lungs and to see the general shape of the heart and large blood vessels in the chest
  • Echocardiogram uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart as it beats and can show how well the heart is pumping, and how well the heart valves are working
  • Stress test to see if the heart gets enough blood when under stress
  • Patients may run or walk on a treadmill with ECG or other heart tests
  • Medicine to stress the heart may be administered for patients unable to walk or run
  • Cardiac catheterization involves a thin tube inserted into a blood vessel in the leg or arm that is threaded up to the heart to take measurements. This can show if any arteries in the heart are narrowed or blocked .
  • Recognizing Depression And Anxiety

    Living Well with Congestive Heart Failure

    Everyone feels anxious or blue some of the time. But if these feelings persist and they interfere with your ability to do and enjoy daily activities, or if your relationships are affected, you should seek help. People who are depressed often feel tired and have no energy. They may lose interest in sex, have trouble sleeping and lose their appetite. Although fatigue and loss of appetite are also common symptoms of Heart Failure, they are more likely due to depression if accompanied by any of the symptoms listed on the next page. You may be depressed if you have any of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks:

    • Excessive sleepiness
    • Feeling keyed up or always on edge

    Many people in our society feel there is some stigma associated with having emotional problems like depression or anxiety. As a result, they may be reluctant to talk to anyone about how they are feeling. However, having emotional problems is nothing to be ashamed about. It is important to recognize and treat depression and anxiety. If you are having difficulty coping with feelings about Heart Failure, you should seek help and support. In other words, if depression and anxiety are interfering with your life or causing distress, it is important for you to seek help from your doctor or nurse.

    Also Check: How To Increase Your Heart Rate

    How Does Heart Failure Affect The Quality Of Life And Lifestyle

    With the right care and treatment plan, many adults still enjoy life even though heart failure limits their activities. How well you feel depends on:

    • How well your heart muscle is working.
    • How well you respond to your treatment plan.
    • How well you follow your treatment plan.

    This includes caring for yourself by:

    • Taking your medications.

    Having Sex After A Heart Event

    Watch this video from British Heart Foundation, discussing sex after a heart event, from a patients and a cardiologists perspective

    If your sexual relationship had deteriorated prior to the heart attack, being close to your partner and supporting them in a close and supportive way may feel more like your previous relationship and is also very important.

    If there are physical problems that are causing you problems achieving your normal sex life, such as erectile dysfunction , discuss them with your health professional. Its very important following a heart attack – or living with heart disease – that no medication is taken without medical advice.

    Read Also: Does Alcohol Slow Heart Rate

    How I Thrive Today

    I joke that I just go outside, pluck up some lawn, and sauté it in a skillet with olive oil.

    My breakfast includes kale or spinach. People say, âWho eats kale for breakfast?â I do, because Iâm putting some green leafy vegetables in my body that contain vitamins and nutrients. And I drink water. I donât think about it anymore — itâs just part of me. Itâs become my habit in the same way that eating 10 pieces of bacon and eggs fried in bacon grease was my habit.

    Every week, I go to the dollar store and buy 3 to 4 gallons of water. I donât drink a whole gallon a day, but I drink enough water.

    For lunch, I eat a salad every day and drink more water.

    Dinner is baked chicken or fish. The whole going-through-the-drive-thru idea has almost totally been cut out of my life.

    Iâve done three half-marathons successfully. Iâve never done a full marathon because Iâm only half-crazy.

    I got into cycling last year. Itâs a great way to practice social distancing and still get exercise in. And itâs more interesting to me than going to the track and running around in circles.

    Iâm down from 11 medications a day to one for blood pressure.

    Before he died, my father listed everyone in my family, their age at death, and what they died from. When my doctor saw that, she decided to keep me on a low-dosage medication to offset my genetic connection to heart issues.

    Joining A Cardiac Rehabiltation Programme


    Watch this video from the British Heart Foundation on cardiac rehabilitation

    A member of the cardiac rehabilitation team may visit you in hospital and give you information about your condition, the treatment youve had and your recovery.

    You should also be invited to join a cardiac rehabilitation programme starting about four to eight weeks after you leave hospital.

    You should be offered rehabilitation if youve had:

    • angina or heart failure
    • an ICD implanted

    Some programmes take place in a hospital or community setting. These sessions will give you and your family the information, support and advice you need to get back to everyday life as well as possible.

    Cardiac rehabilitation helps you:

    • recover from your procedure, surgery or heart attack
    • make changes to your lifestyle to protect your heart
    • reduce the risk of further problems

    You can find out where your nearest cardiac rehabilitation programme is by visiting Cardiac Rehabilitation or by phoning the British Heart Foundation Heart Helpline on .

    Read more from British Heart Foundation

    Read Also: How Is Heart Rate Measured

    Emotions Relationships And Sex

    Being diagnosed with heart failure can be a shock. Some people feel scared, anxious, depressed or angry. These feelings are completely normal.

    Some people also become depressed. Speak to your GP or care team if you feel unable to enjoy the things you used to or cope with everyday life.

    You may find your physical relationship with your partner changes after your diagnosis because of worries about having a heart attack, or because you lose interest in sex or are unable to get an erection, which can sometimes be caused by heart failure medicines.

    You can discuss any worries or problems you have with your GP or care team if you feel unable to talk to your family or friends. They’ll be able to advise you and arrange support.

    You may also find it helpful to join a heart support group, where you can talk to other people with heart conditions whose circumstances are similar to yours.

    You can call the British Heart Foundation’s heart helpline on 0300 330 3311 to find out about support groups in your area.

    Supporting Those Around The Patient

    Those close to the patient may also need emotional and practical support. They may need:

    • information about heart failure to help them understand the symptoms and treatment options
    • support if they’re caring for the patient
    • time to relax or look after their own health.

    If the patient’s heart failure is due to an inherited heart condition, their family may have concerns about their own health. Talk to them about their worries. It might be appropriate to refer immediate family members to a clinic which specialises in inherited heart conditions. This may have been done when the patient was first diagnosed.

    Inherited heart conditions services offer specialist assessment and investigations, genetic counselling and testing. GPs can refer to this service.

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    How To Manage Heart Failure At Home

    Following your treatment plan can help relieve symptoms and make daily activities easier. It also can lower the chance that youll have to go to the hospital.

    • Take your medicines as prescribed. Tell your provider if you have side effects from any of your medicines. They might adjust the dose or change the type of medicine you take to reduce side effects.
    • Makeheart-healthy lifestyle changes recommended by your provider. Habits can be hard to change. Let your provider know if youre having a hard time sticking with any of the changes. You may also be asked to limit the amount of salt and liquids that you drink to reduce fluid buildup.
    • Get medical care for other conditions that can worsen heart failure. These include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and lung, kidney, or liver disease. Tell your provider and pharmacist about all the medicines youre taking. Taking medicines together can raise the risk of side effects. Also, certain medicines can worsen your heart failure symptoms.

    Factors That Increase The Risk Of Chf

    Living With Congestive Heart Failure
    • High blood levels of cholesterol and fats
    • Weakness or fatigue
    • Changes in urination, increase or decrease

    According to the American Heart Association, the New York Heart Association Functional Classification is the most commonly used classification system.

    • Class I No symptoms of heart failure with ordinary physical activity
    • Class II Slight limitation of physical activity. Comfortable at rest. Ordinary physical activity produces symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations and fatigue
    • Class III More severe limitation of physical activity but comfortable at rest. Less than ordinary activity causes fatigue, heart palpitations and shortness of breath
    • Class IV The most severe form of heart failure, symptoms are present even at rest. Unable to perform physical activities without discomfort

    Recommended Reading: Symptoms Of Early Heart Failure

    Your Guide To Living With Congestive Heart Failure

    Congestive heart failure is a condition that develops when your heart loses its ability to supply your body with blood the way it normally should. It can lead to a lack of oxygen in your body, which can affect your other organs and bodily systems. Almost 5 million people in the United States live with CHF, with doctors diagnosing more than half a million new cases every year. This health condition affects people of all ages and backgrounds.

    There are different stages and types of heart failure that can occur based on the different ways CHF can affect your heart and body. Various factors can influence whether or not you develop CHF and how extensive it might become if youre diagnosed. Fortunately, there are a variety of different ways to address the symptoms of CHF. If you or a loved one are facing a CHF diagnosis, its important to understand what this condition involves and what to expect from treatment to manage symptoms and live comfortably.

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