Congestive heart failure, CHF, is a condition in which the pumping action of your heart is compromised and the heart fails to pump as efficiently as it should. Your tissues and organs rely on the blood pumped from the heart for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, hence CHF affects the entire body. The movement of blood through the body slows when the heart does not pump strongly enough, leading to swelling and breathing difficulties as fluid backs up in your system. Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition, and information about diet and fluid intake will form part of your treatment plan as you learn to live with and manage your disease.
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Causes of Congestive Heart Failure
Diseases and conditions that weaken or damage your heart muscles can lead to congestive heart failure. Coronary artery disease, which reduces the amount of blood going to your heart, can weaken your heart muscles, leading to heart failure. A heart attack cuts off the flow of blood to part of the heart, which will damage and scar a section of the heart and reduce the ability to pump. High blood pressure and defective heart valves increase the workload on your heart, which can eventually damage the heart. A number of diseases can weaken your heart and lead to heart failure, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney or liver failure, emphysema or anemia. One symptom of CHF is water retention in the body, and this will be impacted by the amount of fluid you drink each day. Once you have developed CHF, your doctor will work with you to make the best lifestyle choices -- including diet -- to maximize quality of life.
Dietary restrictions may become a standard if you suffer from CHF. You will need to limit your salt consumption, since salt promotes water retention and will worsen your symptoms. The California Pacific Medical Center website indicates 2000 to 3000 mg of sodium per day as the maximum allowable consumption if you have CHF. The other recommendation is that you avoid drinking large amounts of fluid. Moderate amounts of water, juice or decaffeinated tea and coffee are allowed.
Healthy individuals are encouraged to drink at least 8 cups of water per day, but if you have congestive heart failure, your total fluid intake should be around 4 cups. This allowance has to cover all beverage intake, including water. More than 6 cups per day is considered a large intake for CHF patients.
Living With Congestive Heart Failure
There is no cure for CHF, but treatment methods have been developed to help you minimize the strain on your heart as it pumps. Medication, rest, exercise and a proper diet, including limited water consumption, will help you manage your condition.