Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart does not pump blood well enough to effectively support other organs in the body. It’s often referred to more generally as heart failure, but CHF describes the specific stage of heart failure in which fluid collects within the heart and hinders its pumping abilities. CHF does not necessarily mean that the heart is stopping or “failing”—rather, it means that at least one of the heart’s four chambers is not functioning efficiently.
Now, you may be wondering if heart failure can be reversed. The answer is, it depends. CHF is a chronic condition that gradually worsens over time for many patients, although some cases may be reversed with timely treatment and healthy lifestyle choices. In general, heart disease is more likely to be reversed when it is identified early and promptly addressed. The underlying cause of a patient’s CHF also plays a significant role in his or her prognosis—for example, some causes of CHF, such as damaged heart valves, can be surgically corrected.
What Does Congestive Heart Failure Treatment Involve?
Each person’s ideal course of
CHF treatment will vary according to the condition’s underlying cause, his or her overall health, and many other individualized factors. A cardiologist (heart doctor) may recommend a combination of the following treatment approaches:
- Engaging in daily, low-impact exercise
- Reducing sodium intake
- Drinking less liquid
- Taking medications to improve heart function and control symptoms
- Undergoing heart surgery, such as heart valve repair or replacement, stent placement, coronary bypass, pacemaker or ventricular assist device (VAD) implantation, or heart transplant
It’s also important to avoid behaviors that can worsen CHF and negatively impact overall health, such as smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol excessively, and eating foods that are high in fat and cholesterol.
Long-term disease management is recommended for everyone with heart failure, even people who are able to successfully reverse CHF. For those living with any type of heart disease, carefully adhering to treatment and implementing heart-friendly habits are key to living a longer, healthier life.
What Are the Signs of Congestive Heart Failure?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 6.2 million Americans have heart failure, and heart failure was mentioned on more than 13% of death certificates in 2018. Knowing the signs of CHF and promptly seeking medical care can save lives. Be sure to speak with a medical professional if you’re experiencing:
- Sudden weight gain
- Persistent fatigue
- Swelling around the feet, ankles, and legs
- Shortness of breath during routine activities
- A frequent urge to urinate, especially at night
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chronic cough or wheezing
When to Call 911
Some heart failure symptoms warrant emergency care. Call 911 immediately if you or someone around you:
- Has chest pain that is sharp or radiates throughout the upper body
- Has bluish skin resulting from a lack of oxygen
- Is breathing rapidly
- Experiences sudden or severe shortness of breath
- Loses consciousness
In-Home Care for CHF & Other Chronic Conditions
You may associate DispatchHealth with providing on-demand treatment for everyday illnesses and injuries, but that’s not our only specialty. Did you know that we also offer in-home care to patients with CHF and other complex chronic conditions? It’s true—our fully equipped medical teams help patients manage CHF symptoms and achieve their best heart health in the comfort and safety of home. While we don’t address time-sensitive and emergent medical needs, our clinicians can provide EKG testing to assess heart rhythms, perform blood tests, treat uncomfortable symptoms, and provide guidance regarding medications and heart-healthy lifestyle choices. We also send detailed medical reports to each patient’s regular medical team following our visit to ensure expertly coordinated care and to help our patients focus on what’s important: feeling better.
Requesting in-home care from DispatchHealth is simple. Just give us a call, use our app, or go on our website. Our medical teams assist patients 365 days a year and do so at a price that’s surprisingly affordable—a visit from DispatchHealth costs about the same as a trip to a crowded urgent care center. We also accept most health insurance plans, including Medicare. Contact us today if you have any questions regarding our in-home medical services and how we assist patients with CHF.