Congestive Heart Failure

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Congestive Heart Failure • Definition • Prevention • Prevention of Readmission • Essential Patient Education • Opinion Definition Congestive Heart Failure, also known as CHF, is a medical condition in which the body’s heart is incapable of pumping and supplying enough blood to the rest of the body. When this condition occurs, adequate blood flow to the body’s vital organs such as the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys is diminished. Congestive Heart Failure may be due to the right, left, or both ventricles, and is considered a long-term condition. Several causes of CHF include heart valve disease, primary heart muscle weakness, hypertension, and Coronary Artery Disease. CHF is a chronic, long-term condition although at times it can develop quite suddenly. When a heart’s muscles can no longer efficiently pump blood out of the heart wall, systolic heart failure occurs, and when blood is no longer able to fill the heart’s cavity due to stiffened heart muscles, diastolic heart failure follows. When the heart is no longer able to eject blood outside of the heart wall, blood is prevented from entering as well. This, in turn, will lead to fluid build-up in the lungs, liver, GI (gastrointestinal) tract, arms, and legs, and as a result, a lack of oxygen and nutrition to these organs and body parts ensues. Although CHF can develop on its own, other heart problems or conditions such as Congenital Heart Disease, hearts attacks, and arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats) can lead to CHF (Hunt). Prevention • Control Diet. Choose foods that are typically low in sodium content, saturated fats, or cholesterol. • Exercise. Moderate physical activity works the muscle in the heart, and encourages circulation throughout the body. • Avoid tobacco and alcohol usage. Nicotine usage will temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure, and smoking and excessive alcohol usage

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