Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Today, about five million Americans are living with congestive heart failure, which is also known as heart failure (Heart Failure Statistics). Approximately 550,000 Americans are newly diagnosed every year. It has been found that African Americans have a slightly higher risk of being diagnosed than Caucasians are. Statistics have shown that men are more likely than women to be diagnosed with CHF, but as people age the difference between men and women diagnosis’s narrow (What is Congestive Heart Failure). Surprisingly, people of all ages can be diagnosed with congestive heart failure, even children. Although congestive heart failure is predominately found in adults over the age of 60, children and young adults still take up a small percentage of CHF diagnosis’s each year (Heart Failure Statistics). Anyone can develop the disease, but a family history of CHF may place a person at higher risk than those without any family history of the disease (What is Congestive Heart Failure). Congestive heart failure is also the result of many other diseases, which may include: coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and viral infections. Heart failure is found to cause approximately 287,000 deaths a year (Heart Failure Statistics). The prognosis for congestive heart failure shows that many do not live past five years of being diagnosed.
When a person is diagnosed with congestive heart failure, it means that the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the bodies needs (Congestive Heart Failure). This may be the result of the heart being unable to pump out all of the blood from within the chambers, or the chambers may be too stiff and cannot relax enough to be able to fill with blood (What is Congestive Heart Failure). This may result in kidney problems due to the kidneys receiving less blood, so they filter less fluid out of the circulation into the urine (Congestive Heart Failure).The fluid then builds in the lungs, liver, and even the legs, which is called “congestion”. Blood may back up into the lungs, which then goes into lung tissue, due to failure of the left ventricle (What is Congestive Heart Failure). When blood fills other tissues, it may be a result of the right ventricle failing. When the “congestion” is built up, it is given the name congestive heart failure.
When the lung tissue begins filling with blood, it may cause shortness of breath and fatigue, and when blood fills other tissues it may cause for swelling of the liver and the legs (What is Congestive Heart Failure). Many doctors prescribe Lasix, a diuretic, in order to get rid of any extra fluid that is built up (Congestive Heart Failure). They may also prescribe medications such as captopril or enalapril in order to relax the blood vessels to make the blood pump through the heart with a little more ease. Infants sometimes show different symptoms when compared to adults. Some infants are found to sweat, breathe fast, and experience fatigue when they are being fed (Congestive Heart Failure). These infants are also found to not gain weight very well, but show signs of swelling in their feet, legs, and around the eyes. Unfortunately, even with these medications people with CHF are found to get gradually worse over time (What is Congestive Heart Failure). The heart sometimes kicks into overdrive and beats faster and enlarges. This is only good for a short time, but has long term negative effects. The death rates from CHF have decreased approximately 12 percent every decade for about fifty years in both men and women (Heart Failure Statistics).

This shows on the left a healthy heart, while a “congested” heart is shown on the right. In the healthy heart, it shows the blood pumping through with both oxygen rich and oxygen poor blood. The “congested” heart looks larger than the healthy heart due to blood not pumping out sufficiently. Because the blood is not pumping out correctly, it shows that the heart is very weak, and this person would be diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Works Cited
“Congestive Heart Failure.” Congestive Heart Failure. American Heart Association, 24 Jan. 2011. Web. 03 Oct. 2012. .
“Heart Failure Statistics.” Emory Healthcare. Emory Healthcare, 2012. Web. 03 Oct. 2012.
Trelogan, Stephanie, MS. “What Is Congestive Heart Failure?” What Is Congestive Heart    Failure? Genetic Health,2011. Web. 03 Oct. 2012. .

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