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The Heart Failure Center FAQs

WHAT IS HEART FAILURE (also called Congestive Heart Failure (CHF))?
Heart failure is a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body as well as it should. This fluid may backup into the lungs, liver, or ankles. The fluid is called congestion.

WHAT CAUSES HEART FAILURE?
Heart failure may develop over months or years and can be a result of an earlier illness. Heart failure may develop from untreated hypertension, heart attack, or a viral illness which damages the heart muscle, making it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Backleak of blood from diseased heart valves may also lead to congestive heart failure (CHF). With the inability of valves to function properly, the heart dilates leading to congestive heart failure (CHF). Sometimes the cause of congestive heart failure (CHF) is unknown.

WHAT ARE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE (CHF)?
Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or at night while laying in bed, coughing, weight gain, swelling of the ankles, feet, and sometimes the abdomen, fatigue.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE HEART FAILURE?
Managing heart failure requires taking medications, monitoring diet, and weighing yourself on a daily basis, calling the doctor if your symptoms change and being seen in the office to prevent re-hospitalizations.

WHY SHOULD I WEIGH MYSELF EVERY DAY?
Daily weights is very important in managing congestive heart failure (CHF). If you gain 2-3 pounds over night or five pounds in one week, you should call your doctor. You should weigh yourself every day in the morning and record it.

WHAT TYPE OF DIET SHOULD I FOLLOW?
Patients with heart failure must be on a low-sodium diet, which includes removing salt shakers from the kitchen, using herbs and spices instead of salt, avoiding foods that are high in sodium and reading labels on a daily basis and to keeping your sodium intake under 2000 mg in a day.

AM I ABLE TO EXERCISE?
A simple exercise program will help your muscles stay in shape and may improve your heart function.

CAN HEART FAILURE BE CURED?
Heart failure is not curable. Your heart function may improve with proper treatment and follow-up, by following a proper diet, monitoring your weight, and medication optimization. Your quality-of-life will be improved and you may avoid hospitalizations.

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