Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Signs and Symptoms

My son died when he was 13 from congestive heart failure. It is not a good way to die, not that any way is good. Dying of congestive heart failure is a miserable way to go. Usually congestive heart failure is a condition found in the elderly, my grandmother died of it when she was 91. Though an uncomfortable way to go, somehow it seemed more natural for her than for my son. If you have been given the diagnosis of congestive heart failure then you are already having the symptoms of it. Not everyone with the diagnosis dies from it. Many people live for years with the condition. My son had it for a third of his life.

If you do not have CHF (congestive heart failure) then now is the time to know what the early signs are and to be watching for them in yourself and others. I am in my fifties and I am watching for early signs of CHF in myself. I also keep an eye open for the signs in my family members as well. Catching it early is extremely important before any permanent damage is done to the heart and other body organs.

-Here is a list of the symptoms of congestive heart failure:

1) Swelling of the hands, face, abdomen, or feet. (By the time your face is swelling you are well beyond an early sign.)
2) Shortness of breath
3) Pain in the chest with exertion.
4) Unable to sleep lying flat.
5) Increased urination at night
6) Inability to perform physical activities
7) No appetite.
8) Abdominal pain
9) Dizziness
10) Being light headed.
11) A rapid or an irregular heart beat.

-The earliest signs of congestive heart Failure:

1) Fatigue
2) Reduction of activity
3) Depression
4) Swollen fingers in the morning upon waking
5) Puffy ankles at the end of the day after a long time of standing.
6) A poor appetite.
7) Feeling light headed
8) Having dizzy spells
9) Heart palpitations
10) Needing more than one pillow to sleep on.

-What to do if you think you are developing congestive heart failure:

1) Visit your doctor for a well checkup.
2) Reduce your intake of salt
3) Try to maintain a healthy weight
4) Stay active and get plenty of exercise
5) Monitor your blood pressure and try to maintain it in the normal range.
6) Do not wear tight ankle socks
7) Drink plenty of liquids
8) Avoid drinking carbonated drinks
9) Elevate your legs when relaxing.

As my son started to develop CHF he had all of the early signs. As his condition worsened he developed all of the symptoms of CHF. Not everyone will manifest it the same nor will they have all of the symptoms listed as my son did. The signs and symptoms of CHF may not mean CHF but could be symptoms of something else. Only a doctor can correctly diagnose CHF. My sons CHF was caused by his left side of his heart not working as it should. He had hypertrophic cardio-myopathy of the left ventricle. As it worsened the right side of his heart began to fail and his feet started swelling. He started to ask for a second pillow. The number of pillows under his head when he tried to sleep portrayed the severity of his CHF.

CHF Severity Chart

Able to breath and sleeping okay with:

No pillow = no need to worry
One pillows = keep an eye out for symptoms
Two pillows = take your blood pressure, reduce salt in diet, drink some lemonade, and put your feet up. See your Doctor if it persists.
Three pillows = not so good, should be followed with a Doctor and given a prescription.
Four pillows = prognosis is a concern
Five pillows = prognosis is poor
Six pillows = not able to lie down. You are drowning in your body fluids.

It was when my son was no longer able to sleep with five pillows that he died.

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