No organ within the human body represents life more than the heart and rightly so. But the heart can have its share of problems. Some worse than others. Chronic Heart Failure, also known as Cardiac Failure or CHF, is an illness that has no cure. CHF happens when the heart is damaged and cannot function (pump) properly. Once it is damaged, it cannot heal. And, with time, CHF will progress or worsen. As our population ages, more cases of CHF will be diagnosed. Approximately two-thirds of all patients over the age of 70 have heart failure. And 20% of all patients, over the age of 40, will experience CHF at some point in their lifetime.
The risk factors for Chronic Heart Failure vary, but include: multiple Cardiovascular conditions, advanced age, Hypertension, Diabetes, Dyslipidemia, Alcohol consumption, Obesity, etc.
Common symptoms for CHF include:
- Swollen legs, ankles, or stomach
- Weight gain
- Loss of appetite
If you or a loved one are struggling with these symptoms, please contact your doctor. Diagnosis for CHF is achieved through various tests, i.e. chest x-ray, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG) and/or coronary angiogram. Once your diagnosis has been made, it is important to monitor your symptoms regularly. If they worsen or additional symptoms appear, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Treatment options depend upon the Stage (A,B,C, orD) of a patient’s CHF as well as their medical history. There are medications that can help manage the condition. Lifestyle changes are also important. Devices like a pacemaker, or implanted cardiac defibrillator (ICD), may be advised. But in more serious cases, a heart transplant may be needed.
By now, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Chronic Heart Failure, you may be wondering about life expectancy. No doubt you are feeling pretty overwhelmed. Life expectancy varies, depending upon the patient’s condition. According to a study published in Circulation Research, in 2013, doctors estimated that 50% of CHF patients survived 5 years. And approximately 10% lived a decade. A lot depends upon you and your response to CHF, both physically and mentally.
The best way to live with Chronic Heart Failure is to do so with confidence. Embrace optimism. Yes, you are sick. It is very serious. But you are not alone. There are millions of people living with Chronic illnesses. Many of them have CHF. Educate yourself on your condition. Talk openly with your doctor and your family. Ask questions. Make lifestyle changes, if you can. There are ways to minimize your symptoms. Discuss your options. Your confidence will actually improve your daily living. It will allow you to manage the stress of having a Chronic illness. It will help you to cope with your new normal. Yes, it’s scary. Anyone who has CHF, or any chronic illness, understands your fears. Those who have experienced setbacks know your frustration. But every day is a gift worth having — worth living. You can do it!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
— Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
* Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash