6 Ways to Prevent Congestive Heart Failure

Heart Failure Can Be Caused by Several Health Conditions

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Heart failure can be caused by several health conditions, such as high blood pressure, structural defects, such as 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.

Ways to Prevent Congestive Heart Failure

  • 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.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking is a habit that should be eliminated to help prevent heart disease among other illnesses.
  • Eliminate or Limit Alcohol: If you must drink, then do not have more than two drinks a day for men or one for women.
  • 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.
  • Exercise: It is important to maintain an exercise regimen as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Lose Weight or Maintain a Healthy Weight: Watch what you eat and drop those pounds if you are overweight.

Congestive Heart Failure Warning Signs

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, difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and feeling faint
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry hacking cough, especially while lying down
  • Frequent nighttime urination

Congestive Heart Failure Facts

  • 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 in 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.

Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure

If, despite your best efforts, you develop heart failure, it can be controlled by several means. Scientists are now 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." hmc.psu.edu. 2008. Pennsylvania State University. 3 Nov. 2008. <http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/c/chf.htm>.

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

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

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

"Heart Failure." nlm.nih.gov. 17 Jul. 2006. National Institutes of Health. 3 Nov. 2008. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000158.htm>.

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

White, Donald E., Pierre Coutu, Yan-Fen Shi, Jean-Claude Tardif, Stanley Nattel, Rene St. Arnaud, Shouk at Dedhur, and William J. Muller. "Targeted Ablation of ILK From the Murine Heart Results in Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Spontaneous Heart Failure." Genes and Development 20(2006): 2355-60. 3 Nov. 2008. <http://genesdev.cshlp.org/cgi/content/full/20/17/2355>.

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