What does a normal heart sound like? Lub, dub. Lub, dub. But a normal heart can often veer off course, especially with congestive heart failure, and the sound can be quite different.
What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is an illness that cannot be cured. The pumping action of the heart is inadequate, causing blood to back up into the lungs. This makes it difficult to breathe (left-sided heart failure). Blood also backs up into the veins, causing swollen legs and feet (right-sided heart failure).
Current congestive heart failure statistics are startling. According to Emory Healthcare, nearly 5 million Americans are currently living with congestive heart failure and approximately half a million new diagnoses are made every year. Congestive heart failure is the primary diagnosis in 875,000 hospitalizations and most common in patients who are 65 years or older. In addition, it is responsible for 11 million visits to physicians each year. The Cleveland Clinic reports that congestive heart failure occurs in men and women equally, and the prevalence is higher in African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians than in Caucasians. And the America Heart Association claims that 53,000 Americans die from congestive heart failure every year.
Although the disease does not have a cure and the statistics above are disturbing, congestive heart failure can be managed and symptoms controlled. With careful management, complications can be decreased, and patients can avoid returns to the hospital.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure?
At one time or another, someone with congestive heart failure can experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Waking up gasping for breath
- Shortness of breath when lying down
- Shortness of breath with any activity
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of feet and legs
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Persistent dry, hacking cough
- Decrease alertness or having trouble concentrating
At Home with CHF Program
At Chapters Health System and its affiliates—Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice, we recognize the unique needs of patients with a chronic illness such as congestive heart failure. Our At Home with CHF program was specifically developed to meet those needs and help patients decrease unwanted hospitalizations.
Our At Home with CHF program includes the following for patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure:
- Initial and ongoing education is provided to patients and families to assist in controlling the symptoms of CHF. Patients can therefore remain more comfortable at wherever they call home.
- Patients receive a weight form and scale to record their weight. In addition, check-in calls are made to find out if patients have gained weight or had any change in symptoms.
- Patients also receive a color-coded tool that helps them “grade” their symptoms so they know what a good day looks like versus when they need to be cautious or call Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice for help.
- Patients have 24/7/365 access to the HospiceHelp24® nursing hotline for immediate help with any change in their CHF symptoms, such as difficulty performing daily activities; increased shortness of breath; tightness in the chest; swelling of the feet, ankles or abdomen; and a rapid weight gain in one day of 3 pounds.
Good Shepherd Hospice: 1.800.544.3280
HPH Hospice: 1.866.940.0962
LifePath Hospice: 1.800.355.8170