How to Recognize the Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Flare-ups of congestive heart failure, or CHF, can cause a number of worrying side effects.

CHF, or congestive heart failure, is a health condition that occurs when the heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently as it needs to. CHF can be the result of a few different conditions, including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. People with CHF may experience flare-ups, or abrupt worsening of symptoms. Harmony Home Health & Hospice, top provider of Ogden elder care and care in the surrounding areas, can help seniors with CHF watch for signs of a flare-up and take action to better manage the condition.

Common Symptoms of CHF Flare-ups

If you or someone you love has CHF, watch for these changes that could suggest a flare-up:

  • Sudden weight gain. If you gain three or more pounds in the period of just a day or two, it might mean that your body is retaining fluid. Extra fluid can worsen CHF. You should measure your weight every day and maintain a record of your daily weight. This way you’ll know if you have changes your physician should be informed about. 
  • Swelling in feet, legs or stomach. This can be caused by a buildup of fluid in the body. The swelling might be painful or cause nausea or constipation. Contact the doctor immediately if you see that your legs, feet or abdomen are swollen. 
  • Shortness of breath or coughing. These symptoms are often the result of excess fluid in the lungs, making it hard to breathe freely. Things to look for include shortness of breath when carrying out easy tasks, like getting dressed; shortness of breath when resting or lying down; or waking up in the night feeling like it’s hard to breathe. Let your doctor know at your next appointment if you are having any of these symptoms. If they become worse or are severe, call the doctor right away.
  • Rapid heartbeat. If your heart feels like it is racing or feels erratic, call the doctor. This might indicate a CHF flare-up. 
  • Weariness. Some tiredness is normal with CHF, but if you suddenly feel unusually fatigued and have any other warning signs, call the doctor. 

If you have CHF and start to feel faint, have chest pain that doesn’t go away with rest, feel light-headed or confused or are not able to breathe, call 911 immediately.

Steps to Prevent a Flare-Up

There are a number of simple preventative measures you can take to protect your heart from a flare-up, including:

  • Monitor your weight. A sudden weight gain (i.e., more than a couple of pounds in one day or five pounds in a week, or whatever your doctor advises) can indicate your heart failure is worsening.
  • Track health changes. Record how you’re feeling each day, including any new cough, shortness of breath, problems with eating, fatigue, or swelling in the ankles. Include anything you may have done or eaten that might have impacted these changes.
  • Limit salt intake. The extra water your body retains from sodium consumption can worsen CHF symptoms. Pay close attention to food labels, especially when it comes to processed foods as well as restaurant and fast foods. Choose alternate seasonings such as garlic, herbs, spices, vinegar, onion, etc., but stay away from condiments that contain high levels of sodium, such as soy and steak sauce, ketchup, and mustard.

If you have congestive heart failure, a home health care expert from Harmony Home Health & Hospice can help you monitor and manage your condition. Our home health care team is skilled and experienced in helping those with CHF to monitor for changes in condition, implement preventative measures, track vital signs, and much more to preempt CHF flare-ups. Harmony Home Health & Hospice provides in-home elder care in Ogden, UT, Salt Lake City, Tooele, Orem, Ogden, Albuquerque, and the surrounding areas in Northern Utah and Central New Mexico. Contact us online or call 1-877-I-NEED-CARE to find out more about our services.