What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is when one or many parts of the heart are not strong and healthy. This causes the heart to have a hard time getting blood to the body.

How do our hearts work?

First, the blood comes from the body to the right side of the heart
The blood travels from the right side of the heart through the lungs, where blood picks up oxygen, travels to the left side of the heart. From the left side of the heart, the blood will travel to the BODY!

Everyday our powerful hearts go through this cycle to make sure our bodies are filled with the amount of blood we need! When someone has CHF, their heart is not as powerful, which means their heart has a hard time getting the blood to the rest of the body.

How does CHF happen?

There are many different ways this can happen. Two ways are:
1. Arteriosclerosis (say: ar-teer-ee-oh-skluh-ROW-sus): also called hardening of the arteries, arteriosclerosis means the arteries become thickened and are no longer as flexible.

Artery - clean and artery clogged2. Heart Attack: which is when a blood clot or other blockage cuts blood flow to a part of the heart

What will happen to my body?

1. Puffy legs, feet and stomach
2. Having a hard time breathing
3. Coughing more than usual
4. Gaining weight in a short period of time

How will I know when I need to get help?

1. Did you gain 2-3 pounds in 1 day, or if you gain 5 pounds in one week?
2. As you are doing your everyday activities, do you feel like you are having a harder time breathing?
3. Are you sleeping with more pillows at night than you would sleep with on a normal night?
If you find any of these things happening, make sure you call your doctor to let him or her know what is going on so they can get you the help you need.

What will the doctors do?

1. Give you medicine that will help make it easier for you to breath, or help make your puffy feet, legs and stomach go away;
2. Tell you to eat less foods with salt in them such as chips or canned foods and have you eat more fresh fruits and veggies;
3. Have you exercise everyday for at least 30 minutes, such as walking, running or biking (etc.);
4. Suggest that you lose weight, if you are overweight;
5. Tell you to stop smoking and stop being around people who smoke.

Bubble telling angry cigarette character "No" to cigarette
Source: bubble-telling-angry-cigarette-character-cartoon-image41247975
cartoon of heart smiling and jumping joyfully
Source: gypsy4joy.com/2013/11/02/heart-of-mine-part-1/happy-heart/

Let’s keep your heart as happy and healthy as can be!(gypsy4joy.com/2013/11/02/heart-of-mine-part-1/happy-heart/)

References:

If you need more information on Congestive Heart Failure, visit www.deafhealth.org

By Carly Banks, 4/2018