Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) (2024)


If you've been diagnosed withcongestive heart failure, the feeling of your chest constrictingcan be scary.With congestive heart failure, the heart’s capacity to pump blood cannot keep up with the body’s need.As the heart weakens, blood begins to back up and force liquid through the capillary walls. The term “congestive” refers to the resulting buildup of fluidin the ankles and feet, arms, lungs, and/or other organs.

Almost 6 million Americans have congestive heart failure.However, with the correct treatment, patients can recover to good health.

What causes congestive heart failure?

The most common cause of congestive heart failure is coronary artery disease. Risk factors for coronary artery disease include:

  • high levels of cholesterol and/or triglyceride in the blood
  • high blood pressure
  • poor diet
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • being overweight or obese
  • stress

In addition to coronary artery disease, several other conditions can damage the heart muscles, including infections, autoimmune diseases, and some treatmentssuch as chemotherapy.

What are the symptoms of congestive heart failure?

Most commonly, a patient may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, problems with the heart’s rhythm called arrhythmias, and edema—or fluid buildup—in the legs. Symptoms may be mild or severeand may not always be noticeable.

How is congestive heart failure diagnosed?

Patients will typically have an intake visit with a heart specialist and nurse or physician’s assistant. During this visit, the doctor will reviewthe patient’s prior records and his or her current health status. This allows the doctorto establish a picture of where the patient is along the spectrum, and make a plan for prognosis and treatment.

The process often takes more than one meeting and involves both thepatient’s local cardiologist and referring physician.

How is congestive heart failure treated?

Doctors will assess the current health status of the patient to establish a baseline, and develop a long-term health plan. This may involve the optimization of medicines and therapies, adding new medication, orpossibly enrollment in a clinical trial.

Stabilizing and/or reversing a patient’s condition often involves long-term, collaborative follow-up with a referring cardiologist or physician.

In serious situations, advanced therapies, which include mechanical solutions, a heart transplant, or hospice, may be offered.

What is the outlook for heart failure patients?

There are medicines and treatments that reverse many cases of heart failure, and in most cases, the outlook is generally very good.

What makes Yale Medicine’s approach to treating congestive heart failure unique?

Yale Medicine’s team comprises heart failure cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, dedicated advanced-practice, registered nurses and nurse coordinators, dietitians, exercise physiologists, financial counselors, immunologists specializing in transplants, psychologists, and specialists in palliative care.

With a multidisciplinary approach, Yale Medicine physicians include the patient’s desiresas well as input from the family to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that's right for them.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) (2024)


Can you live 20 years with congestive heart failure? ›

In general, about half of all people diagnosed with congestive heart failure will survive 5 years. About 30% will survive for 10 years. In patients who receive a heart transplant, about 21% of patients are alive 20 years later.

What's the best thing to drink with congestive heart failure? ›

Most of your hydration should come from water (do not drink sports drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde unless instructed by your health care provider because they have sodium and sugar added). Other examples of fluids are: Sparkling water (no sodium or sugar added) Milk.

Can you recover from congestive heart failure? ›

There's no cure for heart failure. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and slow further damage. TheI exact plan depends on the stage and type of heart failure, underlying conditions and the individual patient.

Can heart failure go back to normal? ›

Treatment for heart failure. Although heart failure is a serious condition that gets progressively worse over time, certain cases can be reversed with treatment. Even when the heart muscle is damaged, there are several treatments that can relieve symptoms and stop or slow them.

What is the life expectancy of a person with congestive heart failure by age? ›

Average life expectancy for people with heart failure is based on data collected from large groups of people over time. Other factors that affect life expectancy include: Age: The five-year survival rate for people under 65 is around 79%, while the rate is about 50% for those 75 and over.

Is congestive heart failure a terminal illness? ›

However, despite the advancements, 5 years is the life expectancy of about 50% of those diagnosed with CHF. 90% of those in advanced CHF stages will pass away within a year. At moderate stages, patients average 10 years. One of the reasons why CHF is so dangerous is that it goes undetected for long.

Is drinking a lot of water bad for congestive heart failure? ›

When you have heart failure, fluid can build up causing swelling in your feet, legs or belly making your heart work harder. Fluid can also build up in your lungs, which may cause you to have trouble breathing. How much fluid can you have in a day? You should have no more than 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid in a day.

What are the worst foods for congestive heart failure? ›

Avoid pastas, soups, omelets, breads and salads. The concern with salads is that the dressing tends to be very high in sodium, as are many of the added ingredients. Use herbs and spices to flavor your foods.

Can I eat bananas with heart failure? ›

These foods are high in potassium and should be avoided: salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride such as Morton® Lite Salt™, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, cantaloupe, cooked spinach, bran cereals and sports drinks.

Which are two signs of worsening heart failure? ›

Symptoms that may indicate that heart failure is getting worse may include:
  • increased shortness of breath.
  • swelling in the ankles, legs, abdomen, or other parts of your body.
  • fatigue.
  • chest discomfort.
  • sudden weight gain.
  • reduced exercise tolerance.
  • persistent cough or wheezing.
  • increased heart rate.
Aug 11, 2023

Do you sleep a lot with heart failure? ›

Can heart problems make you sleep a lot? As your heart works overtime, it can cause tiredness, shortness of breath and feeling worn out. These symptoms are all signs of fatigue, one of the most common symptoms of congestive heart failure.

What is one of the last signs of congestive heart failure? ›

These are the common symptoms of end-stage heart failure:
  • pain.
  • breathlessness on minimal exertion or at rest.
  • persistent cough.
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • limited physical activity.
  • depression and anxiety.
  • constipation.
  • loss of appetite and nausea (feeling sick)
Jul 26, 2022

Can a weak heart become strong again? ›

“A good diet, exercise and controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol all help promote a strong heart and prevent heart disease. For people who already have a weak heart, low sodium intake, proper exercise and compliance with medications can all prevent more problems.

What is the new wonder drug for heart failure? ›

Semaglutide May Reduce Heart Failure Symptoms, Wegovy Study Finds. The drug semaglutide, sold as Wegovy and Ozempic, reduced symptoms of heart failure in obese patients in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial. Scientists are investigating more future applications for the drug beyond its current usage.

What are three things that can worsen heart failure and why? ›

Factors that can worsen symptoms of heart failure

anaemia (a condition where the blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells) too much salt, fluid, or alcohol in your diet. pregnancy. some viral and bacterial infections.

What is the longest you can live with congestive heart failure? ›

Research estimates that more than half of all people with congestive heart failure will survive for 5 years after diagnosis. About 35% will survive for 10 years. However, in some cases, a person can extend their life expectancy through lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery.

What is the longest you can live with heart failure? ›

This means that about 76 out of 100 people who were diagnosed with heart failure could live for at least 5 years. Generally, young patients with heart failure have a better prognosis than older patients. Early diagnosis and treatment help increase life expectancy as well.

What does stage 4 congestive heart failure look like? ›

Stage 4 heart failure is the most severe, and you will be showing symptoms regardless of what activity you are doing. You may feel issues like shortness of breath, nausea, light-headedness, chest pain, and swelling even when you are completely at rest. Generally speaking, stage 4 heart failure is treated in hospital.


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