A reader writes: Can you describe congestive heart failure..its signs and symptoms..what causes it and what is the best treatment. What questions should I ask my doctor?
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a diagnosis given to the condition when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently to the body. The heart becomes enlarged and blood fluid backs up in the body. If this is prominent on the left side of the heart that takes blood from the lungs and supplies the body with blood, fluid will back up into the lungs causeing shortness of breath, poor sleep, and perhaps a cough. If it is the right side of the heart in failure, the blood backs up in the body and swelling of the lower extremities (edema) is seen.It may back up into the liver and intestinal tract causing nausea or abdominal pain.
Chest X-ray confirms the enlarged heart and may see the fluid backing up into the lungs. We use echocardiography, which is non-invasive, to assist in the diagnosis of this condition. Treatment consists of:
- Reducing possible causes, including high blood pressure, nutritional deficiencies, reducing salt intake if salt sensitive
- Supplements to increase ATP production so the heart muscle can work harder-CoQ10, carnitine
- There are often nutritional deficiencies of magnesium and thiamine with congestive heart failure
- If high blood pressure, add arginine and hawthorne berry.
- A last comment–I don’t like the term ‘failure,’ as it implies something worse than it often is. For the most part, CHF is treatable.