Living With Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure: the term conjures up visions of a death sentence. And, understandably so. The mortality from this diagnosis is more than all cancers in the United States, even if the latter diagnosis scares people a lot more. However, with right treatment and management, most patients can get better and live a better life.

Is the incidence more now?

Yes, for a few reasons. With treatment and mortality from acute myocardial infarction (heart attacks) improving, one of the consequences is ongoing damage over time. Also, with more drug use, one of the possible complications is heart muscle weakness or cardiomyopathy. Finally, as people live longer, one consequence is heart problems and heart failure.

Heart failure happens only in people with weak hearts, right?

Actually, half of patients admitted with CHF have normal function. The problem lies more with valves, angina, arrhythmias, hypertension, etc. 

Once the heart is weak and failing, does it ever get better?

With proper and appropriate treatment, the majority of patients will either stay stable without worsening or the cardiac function itself will get better.

The most common presentation is with swelling of feet and fluid in lungs, right?

Many patients do present that way, yes. However, a lot of patients present with exertional shortness of breath and fatigue. It is important to make the diagnosis correctly and as early as possible

So, in summary, congestive heart failure is a diagnosis with a potentiality dire prognosis.  However, with early diagnosis worked and appropriate treatment/management, most patients should be able to enjoy a reasonably good life and normal activity.

Bio: Dr. Kollagunta Chandrasekhar, better known as Dr. Sekhar (pronounced Shaker) has been practicing cardiology in Winter Haven for 20 years.  Dr. Sekhar is the Chief of Staff at Bay Care Winter Haven Hospital as well as the Director of the Heart Function Clinic and the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Bay Care Winter Haven Hospital and the Chairman of Cardiology at Advent Hospital in Lake Wales. He is a member of the Heart Failure Society of America, the American Heart Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology. To schedule an appointment, please call (863) 508-1101.

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