Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatment

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment


Congestive Heart Failure


There are approximately 5 million Americans living with congestive heart failure (CHF). There are 600,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Congestive heart failure affects everyone from children to the elderly. As a cardiac nurse, CHF is one of the most frequent causes of admissions and re-admissions. Today, the lifespan of people diagnosed with CHF has greatly increased because of groundbreaking medications and improved technology.

Once the patient is admitted, we start the standard treatment. The gold standard diagnostic test is a chest X-ray. This X-ray will show if the lungs are congested. The first line drug is Lasix. With CHF, the body is not able to push the fluids through the body. Therefore, the fluid will stagnant in the legs, arms, heart, and abdomen. Next, the physician will most like order an Ace Inhibitor and/or a Beta blocker. These medications have been shown to strengthen the left ventricle.

Risk Factors for Heart Failure

Diseases that damage your heart also increase your risk of heart failure. Some of these diseases include:

  • Coronary artery disease (the most common type of heart disease) and heart attacks. Coronary heart disease is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. Plaque narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. The buildup of plaque also makes it more likely that blood clots will form in your arteries. Blood clots can partially or completely block blood flow. Coronary heart disease can lead to chest pain or discomfort called angina, a heart attack, and heart damage.
  • High blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can weaken your heart and lead to plaque buildup.Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 130/90 mmHg over time. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury—the units used to measure blood pressure.) If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure is defined as 130/80 mmHg or higher.
  • Diabetes.

Unhealthy behaviors can also increase your risk for heart failure, especially for people who have one of the diseases listed above. Unhealthy behaviors include

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure

Woman holding her head in her hand.Common symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath during daily activities.
  • Having trouble breathing when lying down.
  • Weight gain with swelling in the feet, legs, ankles, or stomach.
  • Generally feeling tired or weak.

Stages of Congestive Heart Failure

The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) staging system is defined by the following four stages:

  • Stage A: High risk of heart failure, but no structural heart disease or symptoms of heart failure;
  • Stage B: Structural heart disease, but no symptoms of heart failure;
  • Stage C: Structural heart disease and symptoms of heart failure;
  • Stage D: Refractory heart failure requiring specialized interventions.

Classes of Congestive Heart Failure

The New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional classification defines four functional classes as:

  • Class I: HF does not cause limitations to physical activity; ordinary physical activity does not cause symptoms.
  • Class II: HF causes slight limitations to physical activity; the patients are comfortable at rest, but ordinary physical activity results in HF symptoms.
  • Class III: HF causes marked limitations of physical activity; the patients are comfortable at rest, but less than ordinary activity causes symptoms of HF.
  • Class IV: HF patients are unable to carry on any physical activity without HF symptoms or have symptoms when at rest.

(Resourced From


Treating Congestive Heart Failure

Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the quality and length of life for people who have heart failure. Treatment usually involves taking medications, reducing sodium in the diet, and getting daily physical activity. People with heart failure also track their symptoms each day so that they can discuss these symptoms with their healthcare team.


The medications are given for congestive heart failure are usually diuretics, beta-blockers,and  ace-inhibitors.


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