Stages of Dying from Congestive Heart Failure
Stages of Dying from Congestive Heart Failure
Sep 30, 2010
This lesson discusses the stages of dying from congestive heart failure
Category: Disease & Illness
Classroom: Women Heart Disease - Causes, Symptoms & Diet

Stages of Dying from Congestive Heart Failure

In the United States there are over five million Americans who are affected by heart failure, with about 550,000 new people diagnosed with it each year. Coronary artery disease or high blood pressure makes the heart too weak to pump the blood through out the body, depriving the body of the necessary oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly.

The most recognized heart failure symptoms are shortness of breath and fatigue. The best way to defend against heart failure is to limit your risk factors and to manage the underlying conditions that could lead to heart failure, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.

Heart failure is a serious condition that has no specific cure, but with the right heart failure treatment program, early intervention and positive lifestyle changes, you or someone you know with heart failure can lead a normal, active life.

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a progressive disease where the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently. There are a number of factors that cause congestive heart failure as seen below:

  • Previous history of coronary disease

  • Congenital heart defects

  • Damaged heart valves

  • Earlier cardiac arrest

  • Chronic high blood pressure

normal heartmyopathy

What Are The Symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure edema or swelling of the legs, ankles, and abdomen, in addition to difficulty breathing. As the heart is unable to pump efficiently, the blood collects in the tissues causing swelling, also called edema. Breathing difficulty results from collection of fluid in the lungs and is exacerbated when a person is lying down.

There are some victims of congestive heart disease who respond to treatment and can live for several years with it. Others may need surgical intervention such as valve replacement, which often gives them a new lease of life. The chosen treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Another option for treatment is heart transplantation. But in many cases the disease deteriorates rapidly and death comes soon.

Stages of Dying from Congestive Heart Failure:

At the outset there may be a slight feeling of fatigue with exercise.

The condition becomes worse with increased fatigue and heart palpitations with limited exercise. The fatigue is often relieved with rest.

The third stage is when the patient is comfortable only when at rest. Normal activities of daily living result in shortness of breath with accompanying fatigue. The person’s ability to function as usual is severely impaired.

The end stage, even the smallest movements are difficult, bringing on shortness of breath and tiredness. It is at this stage the patient's movements are drastically reduced as the slightest task causes a strain on the heart. The inability of the heart to function properly becomes noticeable even at rest.

The best anyone can do for a patient in the end stages of dying from congestive heart failure, is to provide love and comfort measures to ensure that the patient or loved one suffers no more than is necessary. Eventually the patient will slip into a coma and become unresponsive. At that point death is imminent and arrives in about an hour or two.

by Barb Hicks, RN/LMT

The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases


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The One-Minute Cure: The Secret to Healing Virtually All Diseases