Congestive heart disease occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to satisfy the bodies need for oxygen. The causes of congestive heart disease fall under four major categories: a weakening of the heart muscle, diseases such as atherosclerosis that reduce blood flow to the heart, diseases that cause the heart muscle to become less flexible, or disease that increase oxygen demand by the body tissue beyond the capability of the heart to deliver. We will not go into each one of these at length rather opting to attack this complicated subject from a slightly broader point of view due to time constraints.
As with many condition involving the heart and arteries congestive heart disease tends to start slow and only produce subtle symptoms that may go unnoticed, or be so subtle that they are ignored. One important point to consider with congestive heart disease is that the heart naturally weakens with age losing half of its pumping capacity by the time a person reaches the age of 80. So the combination of a naturally weakening heart combined with the with the potential for other age related health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure can create a dangerous mixture of conditions which ultimately could lead to congestive heart disease.
This condition can impact the left side of the heart which is responsible for pumping blood into the body; the right side of the heart which pumps blood into the lungs; or in some instances both sides. Usually the disease begin in the left side of the heart first, and then over times advances to the right side. Left sided congestive heart disease symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, labored breathing, and sometimes lung congestion. If the disease is concentrated in the right side fluid buildup in the veins and swelling in the feet and legs is often seen.
As the heart tries to compensate a number of changes may start to occur in the body. According to American Medical Association here is what you can expect if this condition goes untreated or progresses despite treatment.
First, the walls of the heart muscle may thicken and then enlarge as the heart dilates in an attempt to increase its pumping capacity. The heartbeat may become abnormally fast, again in an attempt to increasing the pumping volume of the heart. The ventricles (lower chambers) may lose their ability to pump from being continually overwork. In response to reduced output of the heart, the kidneys may retain water and salt, worsening fluid buildup, and potentially leading to kidney failure.
Once the causes of congestive heart disease have been identified what lifestyle modification may be suggested by my doctor?
There is a long list of possible suggestions your doctor may put forward as a part of a bigger treatment plan. Let’s look at a nine of these.
They are quitting smoking and/or avoiding second hand smoke, reducing alcohol consumption or limited it to one glass of red wine with dinner, reducing salt intake to 2 grams or less per day, keeping body weight in a healthy range, eating a diet low in saturated fat, limiting total fat consumption to under 25 percent of total calories, avoiding excess fluid intake, resting regularly during the day, and a carefully thought out exercise program put together with your doctor’s help.
What else? Along with these nine steps a prescription diuretic may be prescribed. Doctors specializing in naturopathic medicine may suggest a herbal diuretic and/or a natural cholesterol reduction supplement, along with the nine lifestyle modification techniques listed above.