6 Ways to Prevent Congestive Heart Failure

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Heart failure can be caused by several health conditions, such as high blood pressure, structural defects like dilated cardiomyopathy, and damage resulting from a heart attack. Since factors, such as being overweight, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using cocaine, increase your risk of heart disease and hasten its progression, you should take charge of your health by changing these habits to help ward off heart failure.

Overview

There are some key facts to keep in mind when it comes to congestive heart failure:

  • If one or more family members has congestive heart failure, the first step is to get a complete physical.
  • Anyone can develop congestive heart failure. However, it's uncommon for someone younger than age 70.
  • Heart failure may progress slowly and have no symptoms at first.
  • If the cause of congestive heart failure can be treated, the disease can disappear.
  • Usually, the disease isn't cured. But, if it's caught early, patients can immediately take steps to keep it from getting worse and live longer healthier lives.​

If you're at risk for heart failure, you'll want to have any symptoms checked out as soon as possible by a doctor. Symptoms include:

  • Weight gain and swollen feet, ankles, or abdomen caused by fluid buildup
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Poor appetite, indigestion, nausea, or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing during activities or while lying down
  • Trouble sleeping or difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and feeling faint
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry hacking cough, especially while lying down
  • Frequent nighttime urination

Prevention Tips

Follow these six tips to prevent your risk of congestive heart failure:

1. Manage Chronic Conditions

If you have high blood pressure or coronary artery disease—the most common causes of heart failure—get them under control, along with diabetes, high cholesterol, and thyroid disorders.

2. Quit Smoking

Smoking is a habit that should be eliminated to help prevent heart disease, among other illnesses.

3. Eliminate or Limit Alcohol

If you must drink alcohol, then do not have more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.

4. Cut Back on Salt

Avoid not only table salt, but also processed and high-sodium foods, such as bacon, ham, chips and canned soups and vegetables.

5. Exercise

It is important to maintain an exercise regimen as prescribed by your doctor.

6. Lose Weight or Maintain a Healthy Weight

Watch what you eat and drop those pounds if you are overweight.

A Word From Verywell

If despite your best efforts, you develop heart failure, it can be controlled by several means. Scientists are even looking at ways to use gene therapy to treat congestive heart failure.

Until then, successful treatment may include bringing underlying health conditions under control by taking prescribed angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers or diuretics (water pills), or undergoing necessary medical interventions, such as angioplasty (using a balloon to open up arterial blockage) or stenting (widening an artery with a metal device).

Sources:

"Congestive Heart Failure." Pennsylvania State University. 3 Nov. 2008. http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/c/chf.htm.

"Congestive Heart Failure." Harvard Medical School. 3 Nov. 2008. http://www.patienteducationcenter.org/aspx/HealthELibrary/HealthETopic.aspx?cid=213151.

"Congestive Heart Failure." Texas Heart Institute. 3 Nov. 2008. http://www.texasheartinstitute.org/hic/topics/cond/CHF.cfm.

"Heart Failure." Cedars-Sinai Health System. 3 Nov. 2008. http://www.csmc.edu/5655.html.

"How Can Heart Failure Be Prevented?" U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 3 Nov. 2008. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Hf/HF_Prevention.html.