Congestive Heart Failure

heart health natural medicine st clair west torontoWhat is congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF), also known simply as heart failure, is a condition in which your heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of your body.  When this occurs, blood and fluids back up into your circulatory system, causing swelling in your lungs, legs, feet and ankles, and also congestive symptoms such as shortness of breath.  CHF usually results from other conditions (such as atherosclerosis or high blood pressure), which can weaken the heart over time, but can also develop suddenly due to damage from a heart attack.  Factors that contribute to CHF include excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes, severe anemia, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, smoking, obesity, and poor diet, but it can also develop without obvious cause (known as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy).

Acute heart failure can occur suddenly because of heart attack, a virus, allergic reaction, or blood clot; symptoms are similar to those of chronic CHF, but start suddenly and are more severe. Seek medical attention immediately if you think that you or someone you know is experiencing acute heart failure.

Sign and symptoms of chronic CHF include:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • persistent cough
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • swollen legs, feet, ankles or abdomen
  • sudden weight gain from fluid retention
  • irregular or rapid heart beat

Once diagnosed with CHF, your doctor will recommend a number of lifestyle changes, including regular visits to check your heart function. In addition, your doctor may recommend vasodilator drugs to improve blood flow to your heart, beta blockers to slow your heart rate and reduce blood pressure, and/or diuretics to help you urinate more frequently and thus reduce the amount of fluid building up inside your body (note: other medications, such as ibuprofen or Viagra, are contraindicated with these types of mediations, so be sure to consult with your doctor and/or pharmacist about possible interactions with any other drugs you normally use).  Surgery may be required in some cases (to replace a heart valve or to do a coronary bypass), but in extreme situations a heart transplant may be necessary.

How can natural therapies help with congestive heart failure?

Natural health care is essential for preventing and managing the effects of congestive heart failure. Nutritional counselling can lead you in the right direction to reduce high blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels, while acupuncture and TCM can reduce stress, balance your blood pressure, and can have many more benefits on your heart's health. Yoga and massage therapy both can reduce stress, and can have profound impacts on improving your circulation.

Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you prevent and manage the effects of congestive heart failure.

These links may also be helpful:

Diabetes and Heart Disease