August 2, 2011
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) happens when the heart weakens because of disease or damage. The heart loses its full pumping capacity, and blood backs up into other organs, especially the lungs and liver. You may have shortness of breath (especially with exertion or lying flat in bed), fatigue or weakness, coughing, wheezing, swelling of the ankles, and rapid or irregular heart beat.
Instructions for care
Take your medicine as your doctor has prescribed it. Do not skip doses or take more than your doctor has told you to take.
Weigh yourself every day at the same time and keep a record of it to show your doctor.
Avoid food with high sodium (salt) content (potato chips; ham; bacon and any meat, fish or poultry that is smoked, brine-cured or salted; olives; pickles; canned soups; sauerkraut and other vegetables prepared in brine). Do not add salt to your food. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian if you have any questions about a low sodium diet.
Do not smoke cigarettes.
Rest when you feel tired. You will be able to increase your activity as your symptoms go away.
If your ankles are swollen, elevate your feet when you are sitting down. If you have trouble breathing when lying down flat, use several pillows or raise the head of your bed to make it easier to breathe.
You may need to make an appointment to see your doctor in the near future.
Call your doctor if:
This information is provided only as an informational resource for consumers. For advice regarding a specific medical condition, please consult your personal physician.
- You have increasing shortness of breath.
- You have wheezing at night, faster heartbeat, chest pain, or cough with more sputum or blood.
- You gain 3 or 4 pounds in 1 or 2 days.
- You have symptoms of infection such as fever, muscle aches, headaches or dizziness.
- You have bluish color under your fingernails and toenails or on your lips.