In congestive heart failure (CHF), the heart cannot pump as much blood as the body needs. This may be because the heart muscle's ability to contract is weakened, or the heart muscle cannot relax properly. When this happens, the cells receive too little nutrition and oxygen, which manifests itself in the form of fatigue, shortness of breath or fluid accumulation in the lungs and swelling in the legs. There are different types of heart failure and depending on which half of the heart has impaired function, heart failure is usually called right-sided or left-sided failure. If both halves of the heart have impaired function, it is called biventricular failure.
Symptoms of CHF are due to a combination of the heart's impaired pumping ability, increased pressure in the heart chambers and an activated hormonal system.
Some common symptoms are weight gain, fatigue, decreased energy, shortness of breath, swollen ankles and legs, stomach pain, frequent urges at night and difficulty sleeping lying down. In severe heart failure, which can be life-threatening, the symptoms are extreme fatigue, severe shortness of breath and sometimes ragged breathing, feeling of tightness in the chest, chest pain, cold sweats and palpitations.
The causes of CHF are many and sometimes there is more than one cause at the same time, the most common being high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and rhythm disturbances, such as atrial fibrillation. It is important to treat both the symptoms and the underlying cause, for example to regulate blood pressure, diabetes or kidney failure. In some cases, heart disease may also require surgical intervention.
It is important to treat both the symptoms of CHF and the underlying cause. There are effective drugs that can slow down and reverse the condition for the better. The aim of the treatment is to facilitate the work of the heart and to counteract worsening of the heart failure. The goal of drug treatment is to increase the quality of life, relieve symptoms, avoid hospitalization and prolong life.
The underlying causes of CHF require different types of treatment. For example, it could be to regulate blood pressure, diabetes or kidney failure. In some cases, heart disease may require surgical intervention.
You can do the following to feel better if you already have CHF: Take your medicines regularly and in the right dose, exercise regularly, stop smoking, eat vegetables and fruit daily, reduce the amount of salt in your food, avoid drinking alcohol, use fluids medicine if you accumulate fluid in your body, weigh yourself daily and contact your caregiver if you gain weight.
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Remote patient monitoring in CHF
Remote patient monitoring is a good tool in CHF because it can detect sudden weight gain, which can mean that the CHF is about to get worse. By detecting and correcting this in time, the risk of complications and hospital admissions is reduced, which is why it is recommended to weigh yourself daily in most cases.
You get access to a Bluetooth-connected scale that you pair with a mobile app. When you register your weight, the values are entered automatically in the app. In the app, you can then see how the weight has changed over time through graphs and tables. If you have gained weight, your caregiver will be notified of this and may contact you for possible measures, such as requiring you to take fluid-reducing medication. If necessary, your caregiver can also send questionnaires to your app where you can answer symptoms of your CHF.