Congestive Heart Failure In The Elderly


"All I Heard Was Congestive Heart Failure. What Does That Mean? Is She Going To Die? " "He Is Trying to Explain It -But It is Like The Doctor Is elderly care, elderly health care, congestive heart failure helpSpeaking Another Language."...

Try to stay calm-learning about your elder's disease is important but it takes time to process all the new information and terminology.

Any time a nurse or doctor uses a word that you do not understand, ask them to explain its meaning. Learning all about Congestive Heart Failure is the key to keeping your family member well.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a very common disease among the elderly. A healthy heart can pump blood to all parts of the body in a few seconds. When the heart is no longer able to do this, blood backs up into the lungs and other parts of the body.This back up of fluid not being pumped through the body begins to cause difficulty---such as Shortness of breath Swelling in the feet, legs, and hands.

This failure of the heart to pump adequately can be mild to severe. Controlling the symptoms of CHF is imperative. Early treatment prevents hospitalization of the frail elder. Remember, each hospital stay takes its toll on the elderly. They experience weight loss from which they frequently never recoup. They are left so weakened that they often cannot walk and need rehabilitation up to a few weeks--often needing nursing home care.

Many people with CHF have an enlarged heart from years of having to struggle to pump the blood. Treatment of the enlarged heart can improve its pumping action.For most patients treatment consists of daily medications,rest, stress reduction,limiting salt intake and sometimes limiting fluid intake.

The symptoms of CHF are:
# Swelling in the feet / ankles
# Sudden weight gain
# Feeling tired with minimal exertion
# Frequent urination at night
# Short and rapid breathing
# Difficulty breathing while lying down
# Cough
# Restlessness
# Fast heart beat
# Swelling or pain in abdomen
# Loss of appetite

Treating Swelling--
# Keep feet elevated above heart level.
# Avoid long periods of standing
# Do not cross legs or ankles
# Use caution to avoid bumping swollen legs/ankles
# Lotion legs daily
# Low salt diet----
# Do not salt foods
# Avoid salty foods
# Read labels carefully--many canned foods are
high in salt
# Daily Weight----Weigh daily in early AM-
after urinating
# Record weigh
# A 2 lb weight gain in 1-2 days needs to be reported.
# A 3-5 lb weight in 3-5 days needs to be reported


Notify the doctor with the above weight gain or any of the above symptoms. These symptoms will get worse if ignored and your elder will risk serious illness probably resulting in hospitalization.

Medications--It is imperative that medications be taken as prescribed. Do Not stop medications without talking to the doctor.

Avoiding infections and staying healthy help to keep the heart failure symptoms from getting worse. Anything like an infection makes the heart work harder increasing the strain on the heart. This causes the heart rate to increase.

If flu like symptoms are present notify the doctor immediately-- not in a few days--do it now!!! Try to avoid anyone with cold or flu symptoms especially during peak flu season.

Ask the doctor about pneumonia and flu vaccine.

CHF is a chronic disability requiring frequent medical follow up. Expect to see the doctor often and do not cancel appointments.

CHF can be fatal if not treated properly. Treated people can live many years.

Dedicated to Eldercare!

About the Author:

Alice Endy is a Registered Nurse with a certification in Gerontology.

Alice has spent her entire career in the field of eldercare.

Being a sought after speaker and consultant, she spends most of her time researching trends and changes in elder care.

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1 Response

  1. [...] A nice web master added an interesting post today on Elder Care ABC Congestive Heart Failure In The ElderlyHere’s a small readingCongestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a very common disease among the elderly. A healthy heart can pump blood to all parts of the body in a few seconds. When the heart is no longer able to do this, blood backs up into the lungs and other … [...]
  2. This is a very helpful article and particularly relevant considering the number of baby boomers reaching the age where the effects of such heart problems are common. With roughly 3.4 million people in the US over the age of 60 experiencing CHF and the number of people in that age range growing, more and more people will need to be aware of the risks of CHF.
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