Know the Signs

Story provided by Aging Advocates

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscles. Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped.  Often referred to simply as “heart failure,” CHF specifically refers to the stage in which fluid builds up around the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently. Blood (fluids) may start to back up into the lungs, legs, and/or abdomen causing shortness of breath and swelling.

Common causes of CHF:

  • Coronary Artery disease
  • An enlarged heart
  • Inflamed heart muscle
  • Heart valve problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Lung disease and pulmonary issues

Take steps to a healthier heart!

  • Eat a heart Healthy diet. Make vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish mealtime staples.
  • Get Active! Each week, log 150 minutes of moderate activity, like walking!
  • Control your blood sugar. Aim for a fasting blood glucose less than 100mg/dl.
  • Watch your Cholesterol. Strive for a total cholesterol less than 200mg/dl.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Target body mass index (BMI) of less than 25.
  • Monitor your Blood Pressure. Keep your numbers below 120/80mm Hg.
  • Live smoke-free! If you smoke, quit for optimal heart health.

Addressing Heart Failure-

  1. Weigh yourself daily. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning after using the bathroom, wearing similar clothing and using the same scale. Write down your weight. Call your doctor if you gain 3 or more pounds in a single day or 5lbs in 1 week.
  2. Take your medications as prescribed. Do not skip doses, even when you feel good. If you are experiencing any side effects from your medications, call your doctor. Do not let your medications run out.
  3. Follow you diet and fluid restrictions. Read food labels and do not add salt when you cook.
  4. Keep follow-up appointments. Keep ALL your medical appointments. Bring your current medication list and weight log each time you visit the doctor.
  5. Know when to get help. Call 9-1-1 if you have chest pain that lasts more than 15 minutes and is not relieved with nitroglycerin and rest or have severe shortness of breath, fainting, or passing out.

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