A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF), commonly called heart failure, is a condition wherein the heart is debilitated or ‘deteriorating' and does not pump as effectively as it ought to normally. Consequently, an insufficient amount of oxygenated blood reaches all the body parts. In due course, congestive heart failure remains and the condition deteriorates. Since the circulation of blood from the heart slows down, the blood going back to the heart recedes, resulting in blockages in the tissues. In such cases, fluid accumulation may occur in the lungs leading to shortness of breath. In addition, there may be fluid build up in the ankles resulting in their swelling or even produce innumerable additional symptoms.
People enduring congestive heart failure may not have any symptoms of the condition, or, even if they have, they may vary from being gentle to acute. In addition, the symptoms may be unvarying or ebb and flow. The symptoms of heart failure may include the following.
Congested lungs - backward movement of fluid into the lungs may result in shortness of breath accompanied by exercise or problematic breathing when at rest or lying down straight in bed. Congestion of the lungs may also lead to a dry, hacking cough or gasping.
Fluid and water retention - when there is comparatively less amount of blood in the kidneys, it results in the retention of water and other fluids, which causes swollen legs, ankles, abdomen (known as edema) and weight gain. These symptoms may lead to an augmented requirement to pass urine during the night. In addition, bloating in the stomach may result in a loss of appetite or queasiness.
Rapid and irregular heartbeats - another symptom of congestive heart failure (CHF) is that the heart begins to beat more rapidly to pump sufficient blood to the different parts of the body. Often, this may result in a fast or even irregular heartbeat.
Dizziness, fatigue and weakness: When you have less amount of blood in your vital organs, especially the major ones, and the muscles, it will make you feel exhausted and feeble. Similarly, supply of less blood to the brain may lead to giddiness or confusion.
It may be noted that any heart attack that injures the heart and also impedes its ability to pump blood, often leads to CHF. There are additional causes, which may include persistent lung ailments, high blood pressure (hypertension), infections of the heart muscles or the valves and/ or prolonged drug or alcohol abuse.
Supplements and herbs
A variety of medications possess the ability to reinforce the pumping action of the heart, dilate the blood vessels, augment blood circulation and, at the same time, get rid of surplus fluid from the body. All these supplements may be taken after consulting your physician. In fact, they may be taken in conjugation with traditional medicines to assist sluggish advancement of congestive heart failure (CHF). And what is most remarkable is that the benefits of taking these supplements will possibly be evident within just three to four weeks of taking them.
Taking antioxidants, counting vitamins C and E and coenzyme Q10 to your every day treatment is an excellent approach. When you take them on a regular basis, they have an important function in lessening the damage caused by extremely reactive molecules produced by our body and called free radicals that have the potential to cause damage to our heart as well as other organs. In addition, coenzyme Q10 also possesses properties that perk up the energy levels.
You may also add different additional supplements to the blend. For instance, the herb hawthorn may well be especially useful for the body in the initial stages of congestive heart failure (CHF). It helps to dilate the blood vessels as well as augment blood circulation all over the body.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, initial studies concerning the use of hawthorn as a remedy for congestive heart failure have shown promise. This herb encloses chemical compounds that facilitate in the blood vessels remaining open, as a result of which it aids in lessening stress on the muscles of the heart.
In fact, there are four phases of heart failure and of these the fourth stage is the gravest. Hawthorn has a propensity to be utmost useful only till the phase two - a condition wherein the mild symptoms of the ailment begin to appear for the first time. Actually, additional research is required to decide on the safe and effectual dosage of this herb in treating congestive heart failure.
It is advisable that before you start using the herb hawthorn for congestive heart failure, it is essential that you consult your physician since this herb may result in negative interactions with other medications that you might be taking, including medicines for treating heart ailments.
It may be noted that amino acid carnitine as well as taurine assist the heart in beating more robustly and also facilitate in lowering the blood pressure. In addition, taking magnesium too may help in lessening blood pressure and preventing hazardous arrhythmias - a general problem in people enduring congestive heart failure.
In conclusion, people suffering from heart failure may possibly benefit from taking two added supplements. One of these is the herb called ginkgo biloba that augments flow of blood all over the body, counting the heart. The second supplement is called thiamin (vitamin B1). Several people having congestive heart failure suffer from extremely low levels of thiamin, a B vitamin, as they also take the diuretic Lasix (furosemide) with a view to eliminate the surplus body fluids. However, prolonged use of Lasix usually exhausts the levels of thiamin and, therefore, taking an added amount of this B vitamin may possibly assist in perking up the pumping power of the heart.
Additional things you may do
Besides taking herbs and supplements, you may do a few additional things to prevent as well as treat congestive heart failure. For instance, taken enough rest and never undertake any backbreaking activities. Consume meals that are small and take them more frequently, so that it takes lesser time to digest the food. At the same time, you should keep away from things like alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
When you are enduring congestive heart failure, it is essential that you keep the stressful levels low. The American Heart Association recommends that if you want to facilitate in maintaining low stress levels you should spend at least 15 to 20 minutes of your time every day to practice a relaxation method. This may entail deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery or any one of the several other types of meditation that is available. What is most important is to practice on a regular basis.
The purpose of meditation is to build up vigorous skills to tackle with nervous tension that may be employed during the course of everyday life. Owing to this, the objective is not to fall asleep while you are meditating, but instead to learn the manner by which you are able to focus your mind and quiet down or relax the body. In fact, falling asleep is not any practice that may be employed in demanding conditions, however, you may benefit by taking deep breaths.
It is important for people living with congestive heart failure to shed the additional pounds, as being obese or overweight shoots up the blood pressure and, at the same time, compels the heart to labour more tediously to supply blood to all the additional tissues. Contrarily, when you lose weight, it helps to bring down your blood pressure and provides a break to your weary heart. Several researches have demonstrated that a combination of restricted sodium intake and weight control may help to make a still better difference in the patient's blood pressure and, hence, in the symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF).
It is reiterated that keeping your blood pressure low helps to alleviate much of the symptoms of congestive heart failure. When any individual is enduring heart failure, the discharge of hormones results in the blood vessel to become narrow or constricted. In such a situation, the heart has to labour harder to pump blood all the way through these constricted blood vessels. Therefore, it is imperative that you work to keep your blood pressure as low as feasible with a view to provide relief to your heart and allow it to pump blood more effectually with no additional pressure.
At the same time, it is essential that you monitor your personal symptoms. Ensure whether there is any change in the fluid status of your body by means of weighing yourself every day and examine if there is any swelling. In case you notice any inexplicable weight gain or if you have any enhanced swelling, call your physician at once. It is also important that you should maintain a fluid balance in the body. It is likely that your physician would ask you to keep a record of the amount of fluid you consume and how frequently you go to the toilet. It is important to remember that the more amount of fluids you have in your blood vessels, it will be all the more difficult for your heart to pump the excessive fluid through your body. In fact, if you are able to restrict your daily fluid intake to less than two litres, it will facilitate in lessening the burden of your heart and, at the same time, prevent the symptoms of congestive heart failure from happening again.
At the same time, you should also take care to restrict the amount of sodium (salt) you are consuming. Sodium is naturally present in several foods consumed by us. In addition, it is also included for flavouring or to preserve foods for a longer period. Provided you take a low-sodium diet on a regular basis, you ought to have low fluid retention by the body and, therefore, there would be lesser swelling making it much easier to breathe.
Monitoring your weight as well as losing weight, if required, is equally important for alleviating the symptoms of congestive heart failure. Try to find out your precise ‘dry' or ‘ideal' weight. For the uninitiated, dry weight is your precise weight with no additional water or fluid retention by your body. Your aim is to maintain your weight inside four pounds of your dry weight. If you are weighing yourself daily, ensure that you weight around the same time every day - if possible in the morning, in comparable clothing and after urinating, but prior to eating. It is also important to weigh yourself on the same scale every time. It is also important to record your weight in a diary. In case you gain two pounds in weight on any particular day or say five pounds in a week, you should call your physician for advice. In such cases, your physician may possibly want you to adjust the medications taken by you.
Check your symptoms on a regular basis and if you notice any new symptoms or in case any of the symptoms deteriorate, call your physician at once. It is advisable that you should never wait for your symptoms to turn out to be so acute that you would be required to seek emergency medical aid.
Most importantly, you should always take your medications as they have been prescribed by your doctor. Remember, medications are always used to enhance the ability of your heart to pump blood, lessen stress on the heart, reduce the advancement of heart failure as well as put off fluid retention. In fact, there are many heart failure medications that are used to reduce the discharge of harmful hormones. These drugs actually help to dilate or widen your blood vessels.
There are a number of medications that may help you to prevent or cure congestive heart failure (CHF). The medications and their dosages are mentioned briefly below.
Other beneficial herbs
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