Be proactive and reduce your risk for congestive heart failure

Heart health

By pH health care professionals

It’s estimated that there are 5.8 million people in the U.S. who have congestive heart failure, with approximately 1 million hospitalizations as a result each year. Most of the hospitalizations for congestive heart failure tend to be for patients who are 65 or older, but the rate of congestive heart failure hospitalizations for males under 65 has been increasing over the years. With millions of people in the U.S. being affected by this condition, there’s a chance you may be at risk. But you’ve taken the first proactive step by educating yourself about congestive heart failure.

Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition where the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s metabolic needs. In congestive heart failure, the heart chambers may respond by stretching to hold more blood to pump through the body or by becoming stiff and thickened.

What are some causes of congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure is a weakening of the heart caused by an underlying heart or blood vessel problem, or a combination of several different problems, such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, or damage to the heart muscle or valves. These conditions interfere with blood flow and your heart’s ability to pump blood, which can cause congestive heart failure.

What are some signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure?

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing: Fluid builds up in the lungs.
  • Buildup of excess fluid in body tissues (edema): Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen or weight gain.
  • Tiredness, fatigue: The heart can't pump enough blood to meet the needs of body tissues.
  • Lack of appetite, nausea: Less blood received by the digestive system.
  • Confusion, impaired thinking: Changing levels of sodium can lead to confusion.
  •  Increased heart rate: To make up for the loss in pumping capacity.

How can you be proactive to reduce your risk for congestive heart failure?

In general, a healthy lifestyle can aid in the treatment of heart failure, as well as prevent heart disease from occurring in the first place. Lifestyle changes include:

  1. Stop smoking: Smoking damages the linings of the blood vessels, causes hypertension, increases your heart rate, and decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to the heart.
  2. Weight monitoring and maintaining a healthy diet: new analysis of people age 65 and older concluded that moderate exercise and weight control, even late in life, can cut one's risk of developing heart failure by about 45 percent.
  3. Restrict salt in the diet: Excess sodium in your diet leads to water retention, hypertension, swelling of the lower extremities, and increases the heart’s workload. In the same analysis mentioned above, a higher sodium intake was seen to increase the risk of heart failure by 19 percent.
  4. Reduce stress: Stress raises blood pressure and increases heart beats.
  5. Get enough sleep.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.