Health Guide
Drug Guide

Congestive heart failure

What is it?

Congestive (kun-jes-tiv) heart failure is also called CHF or heart failure. It occurs when the heart muscle is weak and has trouble pumping out blood. Fluid collects in the lungs or other parts of the body. This is because the heart is not pumping as well as it should. This causes your body to not get enough oxygen-rich blood to keep you healthy and strong. CHF starts slowly and gets worse over time. Heart failure is more common in older people than younger people.


A heart attack, heart disease, or high blood pressure may cause CHF. Other causes may be heart valve problems or heart muscle disease. Narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle can cause CHF. Some medicines and lung or thyroid disease may also cause CHF.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have trouble breathing that is worse during exercise or when lying down. Other signs may be edema (swelling) in your ankles, legs, or abdomen. You may feel restless, tired, or weak. You may gain weight, not want to eat, or have a dry cough that does not go away.

Wellness Recommendations:

Rest. Quit smoking. Lose weight if you are overweight. Exercise when your caregiver says it is OK. Eat low salt food. Learn to control stress. Stay indoors during hot or cold weather as this may cause your heart to work harder.

Medical Care:

Diuretic ("water pills") medicine may be needed to treat mild CHF. This medicine removes extra fluid that has gathered in your lungs and body. Other medicines may be used to treat more serious CHF. You may need oxygen to help you breathe easier. You may need to go into the hospital for tests and treatment.

Dietary Measures:

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Many of these herbs and supplements can cause problems with medicines you are already taking. Talk with your caregiver before taking any of the following herbs or supplements.



Complementary Therapies:

Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:


You are too dizzy to stand up.

You have signs of a heart attack:

Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


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Fachinformation: Cratecor(R), Weissdornblaetter, -blueten- Trockenextrakt. Bionorica GmbH, Neumarkt, Germany, 1996.

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8. Smith FW: Acupuncture for cardiovascular disorders. Probl Vet Med 1992 Mar; 4(1):125-131.


Last Updated: 9/15/2016

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