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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 18 years

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Can congestive heart failure kill someone ?

Can Congestive heart failure kill someone?
Tue, 15 Dec 2009
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The bad news it that it can kill you. In fact it will... CHF is 100% fatal. The good news it won't kill you today. What exactly IS Congestive Heart Failure? Well, assume you have this rubber ball. You squeeze it and squeeze it day after day, and still it bounces like the day you bought it. That's how the heart is supposed to work. But one day you are squeezing your rubber ball and you notice it feels "mushy". Then you bounce it on the floor and it doesn't bounce as high as it once did. It's being squeezed so hard that it is losing its elasticity. That is CHF. When I was diagnosed with Heart Failure, the average survival rate was five years. That was SIX years ago! According to the statistics, I should be gone, or waiting on the end. But I'm up and about, living a good life, and doing well. If I die today it will probably be because I accidentally stepped in front of a bus. Heart failure can be controlled and it can be slowed down, IF you decide to take care of yourself. The first thing to do is exercise. Walking is a good exercise -- you can't really go wrong, and you can start as small as you have to. Not used to it? It's not a problem -- just do what you can, and stop. And try to do a little more the next day, and the next, and so on. The trick, I believe, may not be to walk fast, but to walk steady. Walk as fast as you can, as slow as you need to, but DON'T STOP. Keep going until you have to stop. When you do have to stop, stop for a short as a time as possible, and then start walking again. It will take time to build up. The first day I walked, they told me to walk for 15 minutes, and I couldn't do it. Now I can walk 4 miles! You will be prescribed fluid pills, make sure you take them. Have you been put on the heart failure diet? If not, there are only two guidelines: No more than 2000 milliliters of fluid a day, and no more of 2000 milligrams of sodium per day. The sodium is the hard part. 2000 milliliters is more than 67 ounces, you can handle that. But you will have to start checking the cans and packages when you buy groceries, and for a while it will take much longer to decide what you will eat than it will to prepare and eat it. But it becomes like second nature to you. Someone will offer you food and it will "click" in your head about how much sodium is in that item, and you'll decide if you can have some or just pass the plate to the next person. The quickest way to help yourself is to move the salt shaker to the other end of the table. And tell your family that under NO circumstances are they to pass it to you. Keep the cook away from the salt shaker, also. Cook the food as it is, if people want some salt, they can salt their own portions! As soon as you wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom and urinate. Then weigh yourself. (No clothes, or as little as possible) Write down the date and your weight, and check it EVERY day. If you ever gain more than 3 pounds in a 24 hour period, call your doctor and report it. They may tell you to take an extra fluid pill, or to go easy on the drinking for a day or so. Heart failure can be controlled, if you decide right from the beginning you are going to take care of yourself.
Disclaimer: These answers are for your information only and not intended to replace your relationship with your treating physician.
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