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.
WHAT IS CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE?
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.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF 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
- 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.
HOW DOES CHF IMPACT QUALITY OF LIFE?
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
- 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.
REDUCING THE TOLL OF ADVANCED CHF
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.