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Suffering from congestive heart failure, extreme abdominal edema and shortness of breath. Will this lead to death?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 8985 Questions
My mother is in advanced congestive heart failure. She has extreme abdominal edema and shortness of breath with any activity at all. At last check six months ago her heart function was about 15%. She is 95. She has been hospitalized several times and now doesn't want any more treatment. She takes nitro several times a day. She is still at assisted living and in her own room but with hospice coming in regularly. She does walk to meals - with great shortness of breath resulting. My question is how quickly is this likely to lead to her death.
Posted Mon, 18 Nov 2013 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 47 minutes later
Brief Answer:
6 months to 5 years

Detailed Answer:
Hello ma'am and welcome.

Thank you for writing in.

I am sorry to hear about your mother, but I am sure she has lived a wonderful life, full of good memories for herself and left behind many for you as well.

As for the ejection fraction and heart function of 15 %, this is quite poor, and based on her current life style it is bound to get worse. Life expectancy in such cases cannot be predicted as it depends completely on lifestyle, individual response to medication, diet, etc; and many other factors. But I can provide you with the textbook approximate figure which is from 6 months up to 5 years. But this is if the individual takes care and tries his/her best to make lifestyle changes. If you wish, you could consult your mother's doctor about an implant (device to boost the functioning of the heart).

I hope you found my response both helpful and informative ma'am. Being a doctor, I can only sincerely hope and pray for the best for ma'am (your mother), as in some cases trying to prolong life causes discomfort for the patient, and that is something I would not want to advise. Hoping for the best.

God bless you and your family.
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