Heart failure – it sounds scary, and it certainly is a serious condition, but having heart failure does not mean your life is over. What does a diagnosis of congestive heart failure (CHF) mean and how do you move on with your life?

Heart failure is not a heart attack. It usually develops over time and unfortunately has no cure. The common causes of congestive heart failure (CHF) are coronary artery disease (blockages in the arteries), obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and in some cases, an inherited condition. CHF occurs when the heart muscle is unable to adequately pump oxygenated blood to your organs and muscles, creating congestion, or extra fluid, which can damage the organs.

“CHF is a chronic condition which can worsen if proper steps aren’t taken to reduce symptoms and slow its progression,” said Dr. Mohit Sharma of Three Village Cardiology. “You can still enjoy life while making changes to improve your health. The sooner you begin treatment and long-term management of your CHF with medications and lifestyle changes, the better your chance at improving your outcome.”

CHF is treated with daily medications that help the heart rest and repair while preventing fluid retention. In addition, lifestyle changes including a heart-healthy, low salt diet, regular physical activity and follow-up visits with your doctor are key to managing your condition. Other lifestyle changes that can slow the progression of heart failure include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Controlling high blood pressure
  • Reducing stress

CHF is a chronic, progressive condition, but if you stay on track with your diet, exercise and overall treatment plan, there is no reason that you should not be able to resume or continue your normal daily activities.