The Toll of Congestive Heart Failure

There are more than 200,000 cases of congestive heart failure (CHF) in the United States each year. Heart disease continues to be the greatest health threat to Americans and is still the leading cause of death worldwide. As CHF advances, patients often experience distressing symptoms that lead to frequent hospitalizations. The emotional and physical toll of congestive heart failure can be overwhelming to both those living with CHF and their families. February is National Heart Month, a time of year when ViaQuest Hospice works to educate about hospice’s ability to improve quality of life for those living with advanced CHF.



Congestive heart failure (also called heart failure) is a serious condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently as it should. With CHF the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. As frightening as it sounds, heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It just means that your heart is unable to pump blood the way it should.

As a result, the heart can’t keep up with the body’s demand, and blood returns to the heart faster than it can be pumped out, causing it to become congested, or backed up. As blood flow out of the heart slows, blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing congestion in the body’s tissues. Patients often experience swelling (your physician will refer to this as edema) in the legs and ankles, but swelling can occur in other parts of the body, too.

CHF typically occurs after other conditions have already weakened the heart. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and other heart-related conditions can be risk factors for CHF. Unfortunately, some of these factors cannot be reversed, meaning that some patients are inevitably at a higher risk for CHF.


Symptoms of heart failure can range from mild to severe. There may even be a time when you have little to no symptoms at all. This does not mean that you no longer have CHF. CHF is a progressive disease. When living with CHF it’s important to remain in tune with your body. As symptoms progress, there may come a time when you need an extra layer of support to ensure the best quality of life possible. ViaQuest Hospice is highly skilled in CHF. Our expert care helps control symptoms and improve quality of life. Common symptoms of congestive heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling tired
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and/or abdomen
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Dry cough
  • Limited ability to care for oneself

Though hospice can greatly improve the quality of life for those living with CHF, it is often a choice made too late to make a real impact, or a choice not made at all. ViaQuest provides expert, highly skilled care for CHF. Our care can help reduce and control symptoms, increase comfort, and improve quality of life. ViaQuest, along with a patient’s physician, creates individual plans of care focused on each patient’s disease progression and unique needs. This highly focused patient-centered care helps control issues resulting in reduced trips to the ER and hospitalizations.


When we talk about serious illnesses like CHF, most of the symptoms we read about are physical. Just Google CHF and you’ll find pages of articles on signs, symptoms, and causes. But CHF takes a bigger toll on a patient’s life than physical symptoms. CHF can have a huge emotional impact on both the patient and their family, affecting their joy, peace of mind, and sense of wellbeing. Common effects of CHF can include:

  • Depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and hopelessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Confusion
  • Loss of spiritual wellbeing
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Guilt or feeling like you have become a burden
  • Feeling isolated from healthy family and friends

Here’s how hospice care is different. ViaQuest Hospice helps patients and their families understand and then navigate these emotional tolls of CHF. ViaQuest counselors, chaplains, and social workers provide comfort, resources, and guidance to help you recognize the emotional side of this devastating illness, then help you find a path forward to living better with your new reality.


ViaQuest Hospice can help reduce the burden and stress of advanced CHF. We focus on improving quality of life by developing individual plans of care unique to each individual and their stage of illness. If you have a loved one living with CHF, remember you don’t have to face this serious illness alone. Comfort, support, and an extra layer of caring are available. If you’re unsure about what level of care makes the most sense in regard to your loved one’s illness today, we can offer guidance and answer any questions you may have. Give us a call at 855-289-1722 or reach out to us here and we’ll help determine if our hospice services are right for you.

Getting a Passing Grade

congestive heart failure treatment

Knowledge to More Effectively Manage Congestive Heart Failure

For patients with heart problems, being released from the hospital is often just the beginning.

Statistics show that approximately 20% of heart patients are readmitted to the hospital within a month. That means many patients simply aren’t prepared to deal with the new realities of their issues, and need information and support if they’re to avoid a prompt return to the hospital or the emergency room. Readmission rates are so high that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services developed financial reforms to deal with their economic impact.

American Heart Month in February is a time to show awareness for those at risk of falling victim to what was, pre-COVID, the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. But for those who suffer from congestive heart failure, as with all other heart ailments, that awareness needs to continue year-round – those afflicted won’t be getting a break in March.

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that impairs the heart’s ability to pump blood. Fluid buildup around the heart reduces its ability to pump efficiently, forcing it to expend more energy and send less oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. To compensate for these problems, the heart may become enlarged and begin pumping faster to get blood to the rest of the body. In addition, blood vessels narrow, and blood is diverted from the brain to other parts of the body.

The Symptoms of CHF

Symptoms of congestive heart failure include, but are not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea, particularly when lying down
  • Fluid buildup, also known as edema
  • Sleeplessness
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased stress
  • Water retention, resulting in swelling and/or weight gain
  • Swelling
  • Bloated or upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat, known as heart palpitations

Additional Struggles for Patients

Patients who deal with the effects of congestive heart failure on a daily basis also tend to encounter secondary symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. They’re more sensitive to extreme weather – the increased blood flow and sweating associated with warm weather give the heart more work today, while the breathing difficulties brought on by cold weather put their own strain on the heart – and may have difficulty with tasks that were once easy, from climbing stairs to carrying groceries.

Managing the Disease

Because of the body’s defense mechanisms, it may take a person a long time to notice the symptoms of congestive heart failure, and even longer to do anything about them. For many people, these symptoms are easy to pass off as minor inconveniences for quite some time. This can even continue after a patient has been hospitalized – increasing the risk of readmission, as the patient doesn’t notice the symptoms quickly enough or doesn’t know how to deal with them.

Finding the Right Approach

As widespread as heart disease is, no two people who suffer from this disease face the same challenges. Congestive heart failure treatment and management requires specialized care tailored to the individual – there is no one size to fit all.

The Basis of a Plan

Though congestive heart failure has no cure, a well-thought-out medication regimen and smart lifestyle changes can make it much easier to handle on a day-to-day basis. An effective treatment plan will focus on more than just managing crises. It must also have a heavy emphasis on prevention.

Putting a Treatment Plan into Action

The best path to improved outcomes with congestive heart failure is an individualized treatment plan. This type of treatment helps to manage symptoms, avoid serious complications and keep the patient out of the hospital.

Individualizing Care

At ViaQuest, we customize care for all of our patients, meaning every single one has a plan that meets their specific needs. Plans are devised based on conditions, symptoms, time of year and more. We offer access to all of the professionals on our care teams, from CNAs to our medical director, and our nursing staff is available 24/7. We also work with Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance providers to ensure our services are affordable, if not outright free of charge.

Understanding Day-to-Day Health

We’ll set up free at-home assessments, monitoring and support, so our patients and their loved ones are always kept apprised of the patient’s health. And in addition to the care we provide directly, we also offer treatment algorithms and educational materials so you know how to handle your health on your own time.

Through these measures, we can help prevent readmission in patients with congestive heart failure. ViaQuest Hospice helps keep patients out of the hospital by bringing all the hospital services directly to them.

Find Out More

To learn more about the care options available to you or to a loved one with congestive heart failure, get in touch with us at ViaQuest today.