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Living w/ Congestive Heart Failure

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“Although there is no cure for congestive heart failure, it’s important to manage the condition with medication and lifestyle changes to prevent it from worsening.”

I disagree with the Everyday Health article linked below when it says that there is no cure for congestive heart failure (CHF). Well…I disagree with the article’s use of the word cure. I understand why the writer uses that word but I disagree with its use because CHF patients should think about managing their CHF and not about curing it. Let me explain…

I should qualify my disagreement to say that I think heart failure stages A, B and C can be managed for the rest of the survivor’s life. I say this because my heart failure is stage C. I have been stable since my diagnosis in late 2010.

I am a long-term cancer survivor. I underwent aggressive chemo and radiation in 1995. I developed chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation in 2010. 

I belong to several online groups that focus on heart health on Facebook. People in these groups are always talking about the side effects they experience with conventional heart meds. Because my cancer experience was so difficult and because I had a negative reaction to my first heart med- metroprolol, I decided to try to manage my heart disease without any conventional medications at all.

I do non-conventional therapies  1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 listed below as well as several other nutritional supplements shown to be heart healthy (taurine, cacao, carnitine, others.

What are non-conventional congestive heart failure therapies?

  1. Acupuncture: Some studies suggest that acupuncture can improve symptoms and quality of life in patients with heart failure by reducing sympathetic activity and improving cardiac function.
  2. Yoga and Meditation: Mind-body practices like yoga and meditation can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve overall well-being, which may benefit individuals with CHF.
  3. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Supplementation: CoQ10 is an antioxidant that plays a role in cellular energy production. Some research suggests that supplementation with CoQ10 may improve symptoms and exercise capacity in individuals with CHF.
  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have anti-inflammatory and anti-arrhythmic effects that may be beneficial for heart health. Some studies suggest that omega-3 supplementation could reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in patients with CHF.
  5. Hawthorn: Hawthorn extract is a herbal remedy that has been used traditionally for heart health. Some evidence suggests that it may improve symptoms and exercise tolerance in individuals with CHF.
  6. Music Therapy: Listening to music has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve mood, and enhance relaxation, which can be beneficial for individuals with CHF.
  7. (moderate) Aerobic Exercise: While exercise is a conventional therapy for CHF, certain non-traditional forms like Tai Chi or water-based exercises may be particularly beneficial due to their low impact nature and stress-reducing effects.
  8. Magnet Therapy: Though controversial, some individuals use magnet therapy to alleviate symptoms of CHF. However, scientific evidence supporting its efficacy is limited.

Like my general view of managing cancer, each heart patient should choose the best of both conventional and evidence-based non-conventional therapies for them.

If you would like to learn more about living with congestive heart failure sent me an email- David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com

Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

How to Live Longer With Heart Failure

“A congestive heart failure diagnosis doesn’t mean your heart has stopped working, it means that your heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout your body.

“Heart failure is a scary term,” says Maria Mountis, DO, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The condition can worsen if the proper steps aren’t taken to slow or halt the problem, but it does not mean your life is over.

Congestive heart failure, more simply known as “heart failure,” occurs when there’s a reduction in blood flow throughout the body because blood flow from the heart slows down. That means blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing congestion in the body’s tissues. That congestion may cause swelling in the ankles, legs, or stomach, as well as fluid in the lungs that causes trouble breathing.

Life expectancy with congestive heart failure varies depending on the severity of the condition, genetics, age, and other factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one-half of all people diagnosed with congestive heart failure will survive beyond five years. Only around 10 percent of people diagnosed with the condition survive at least 10 years, according to a study published in August 2013 in the journal Circulation Research

Although there is no cure for heart failure, it’s important to manage the condition with medication and lifestyle changes to prevent it from worsening…

The Stages of Congestive Heart Failure

Stage A

This is “pre–heart failure.” It means you’re at risk of developing heart failure because you or someone in your family has diabetes, high blood pressure, early coronary artery disease, or there’s a family history of cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle…

Stage B

This diagnosis is also early in the progression of heart failure. It means you already have some changes to the heart that could possibly lead to heart failure…

Stage C

Individuals at this stage have been diagnosed with heart failure, and currently have or have previously had signs and symptoms of the condition, including shortness of breath, inability to exercise, swelling of their legs, or waking up short of breath after lying down..

Stage D

This is an advanced stage of heart failure, and these patients are the sickest, Mountis says. “These are the people who, when I see them, we need to talk about a heart transplant, mechanical heart pump, or end-of-life care if we have nothing else to offer,” she says. Patients with this stage of heart failure should see a specialist to help determine the best course of treatment and which options are still on the table. “It’s critical that they see a specialist within a few days of someone telling them they have stage D heart failure,” Mountis says.

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