Nearly half a million Americans suffer from congestive heart failure (CHF), a condition where the heart loses the ability to efficiently pump blood.
As pumping action decreases, blood collects in other areas--including the liver, lungs and gastrointestinal tract—and the body’s key organs stop receiving oxygen and essential nutrients. Symptoms can include:
- Weakness or exhaustion with little exertion
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid weight gain
- Swelling in abdomen, ankles or feet
- Confusion or trouble concentrating
- Dizziness or fainting
- Racing or irregular heartbeats
The most common causes of heart failure are high blood pressure and coronary artery disease (for example, if you have had a heart attack). Heart failure becomes more common with advancing age. You area also at increased risk for developing heart failure if you are overweight, have diabetes, smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol or use cocaine.
While there is no cure for CHF, it can be managed when diagnosed early. Key lifestyle changes, including reducing salt intake and increasing physical activity, can help a CHF patient live a relatively normal life. Taking prescribed medications and keeping doctor’s appointments also are important. And in some cases, CHF may require open-heart surgery to correct an underlying problem.
To help congestive heart failure patients and their caregivers manage the disease, Western Baptist Hospital offers Understanding Heart Failure, a series of educational classes.
Participants may attend one or all of the four weekly classes. There is no charge, but advance registration is required.
- A physician will discuss heart failure, its causes and available treatments.
- A pharmacist will explain what medications are needed and why.
- A dietitian will provide information about your diet—not only what you cannot eat, but also what you can eat.
- A nurse will answer any questions.
For upcoming classes or more information, phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918 or visit westernbaptist.com.