What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Published: February 02, 2016

by: Christine Namey, MPT, Lutheran SeniorLife Rehabilitation Services

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump enough blood through your arteries. This affects the amount of oxygen-rich blood in your body. Symptoms include fatigue, diminished exercise capacity, shortness of breath and swelling. CHF can be caused by diseases that weaken the muscle of the heart, diseases that cause the heart muscle to stiffen, or diseases that increase oxygen demand by the body beyond what it can deliver.

Congestive heart failure can also affect many organs of the body. The kidneys may not receive enough blood, affecting their ability to excrete sodium and water, causing the body to retain more fluid. The lungs can become congested with fluid. The intestines may not be able to absorb nutrients well and the liver may not be able to remove toxins from the body. Swelling may also occur in the ankles and feet.

A new study completed by Kaiser Permanente determined that sitting too much is detrimental to cardiovascular health. Those individuals with low physical activity and prolonged time sitting had increased risks of both coronary heart disease and heart failure. Low physical activity causes inadequate muscle contraction. This is associated with poor glucose metabolism, and poor body weight. These increase the risk of coronary heart disease and heart failure. In addition, being more active improves heart muscle structure and function.

Researchers say, "The message is: when you can walk instead of stand - walk. When you can stand instead of sit - stand."

 

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