Instructor: Marnie Bingham
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is the condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood throughout the body. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped working or is about to stop working, it is just an indicator that your body is no longer functioning at its full potential. CHF is most common among people 65 years old and over. The causes however, depend very much on the individual's lifestyle, preexisting medical conditions, and heredity. Some conditions that have been proven factors in leading to heart failure include past heart attacks, high blood pressure, abnormal heart valves, heart muscle disease, heart defects present at birth, severe lung disease, and sleep apnea.
The awareness program that I intend to create will target the 55 plus age group, but also be available to younger groups so that they are more aware of conditions that could effect their parents or grandparents. Awareness is key in taking preventative measures for your own health as well as the health of family members and/or patients in your care.
Congestive heart failure does not only affect the heart muscle. There are several body systems that are effected by CHF, including the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the neuroendocrine system, and the vascular system. Aside from the conditions that lead to congestive heart failure, there are some warning signs that should be considered. Shortness of Breath (dyspnea) that presents itself as breathlessness during activity or while sleeping (more difficult when lying flat) and is caused by blood backing up in the pulmonary veins because the heart can't keep up with the supply which causes fluid to leak into the lungs. Persistent coughing and/or wheezing that produces a pink blood tinged mucus which is caused by fluid in the lungs. Build up of excess fluid in body tissues (edema) that presents itself when there is swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, and abdomen. This occurs when blood flow out of the heart slows and blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up. Kidneys are less able to dispose of sodium and water and fluid builds up in the tissues. Fatigue and difficulty completing every day tasks occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meed the needs of body tissues. The body diverts blood away from less vital organs like muscles in the limbs, and sends it to the heart and brain. Lack of appetite and nausea occurs because the digestive system receives less blood, increasing digestive problems. Confusion and impaired thinking presented by memory loss or disorientation is caused by changing levels of certain substances in the blood such as sodium or protein. Increased heart rate presented by heart palpitations and/or racing or throbbing heart beat occurs when the heart beats faster to make up for the loss in pumping capacity. If any of these symptoms become present in an individual, it is important to seek a physician's opinion to begin the process of diagnosing congestive heart failure. The sooner CHF is found, the faster the individual can make lifestyle changes and begin taking medications to improve quality of life.
Lifestyle is a very large contributor to congestive heart failure. In order to ensure the highest possible quality of life, there are several actions one can take to change old habits into healthy ones. Smoking is linked to heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other major health conditions. Quitting smoking, or never starting to smoke is one of the most important lifestyle changes any person could make in ensuring a healthier lifestyle. Healthy diet is another lifestyle change which is important not only in those who are ill, but to prevent illness and disease. Staying active and getting plenty of exercise to maintain a healthy weight (which goes hand in hand with a healthy diet) can be...