Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a serious health concern. It describes a problem where the heart is functioning inadequately as a pump. This results in congestion in the lungs or backup pressure of blood in the veins which can result in shortness of breath and edema. Initially the symptoms may manifest only on exertion such as during exercise but often progress and occur even at rest. CHF can present acutely in association with a myocardial infarction or atherosclerosis. Typically it is a chronic condition that develops over a number of years.
Congestive Heart Failure
|Causes||Dietary Factors, Smoking, Stress, Prescription Medications|
|See Also||Cardiovascular Conditions, Hypertension, Atherosclerosis|
|Books||Books on Cardiovascular Conditions|
|Articles||Articles on Cardiovascular Conditions|
|Article||Heart Failure from AF, NDNR; 2013 February |
In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With congestive heart failure, the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. CHF often develops as a result of other underlying cardiovascular conditions, hence the causes of conditions such as atherosclerosis and hypertension often are similar to those of CHF.
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|Article||CoQ10 and Heart Failure , IHP ; Sept 2012|
- Emotional excesses can increase the risk of cardiac decompensation and congestive heart failure.
- Air Pollution
- Prescription Medications
- A number of pharmaceutical medications are associated with increased risk of CHF including beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, glucocorticoids, NSAIDs, and vasodilatory drugs.
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- Physical Exam
- The following findings on physical exam are often apparent in CHF:
- jugular venous distension
- increased respiratory rate with accessory muscle use
- pulmonary findings including rales, ronchi, and wheezing
- liver enlargement
- altered heart sounds
- Other Diagnostic Tests
- ECG or electrocardiogram, chest x-ray or radiograph, echocardiogram, sometimes a radionuclide multiple gated acquisition scan
- Staging is an important aspect of the evaluation of CHF in order to properly direct treatment. In general, stages I and II of CHF are extremely responsive to treatment with natural therapies alone. The following are the criteria for the four stages of CHF:
- Stage I - Individual is symptom free at rest and with treatment
- Stage II - Individual has impaired heart function with moderate physical effort, but has no symptoms at rest
- Stage III - Individual has symptoms with minor physical exertion, but has no symptoms at rest
- Stage IV - Symptoms are present at rest
Related Symptoms and Conditions
- CHF can be right sided, left sided, or both:
- Right ventricular failure is characterized by peripheral edema, jugular venous distension, hepatomegaly, cor pulmonale and ascites.
- Left ventricular failure is characterized by the need to sleep sitting up (orthopnea), shortness of breath at night (dyspnea), and bilateral rales over the base of the lungs.
Common Questions asked in the assessment of CHF include:
- Any recent history of shortness-of-breath (dyspnea), cough or frothy sputum?
- Any recent history of fatigue, lightheadedness or fainting?
- Any unexplained weight gain?
- Is there an ankle swelling or edema?
- Is there any shortness of breath at night?
- Is there any difficulty in breathing while lying down?
- Is there any history of heart disease?
- Although congestive heart failure is very rare in children if there is shortness of breath that is getting progressively worse or sweating above the lip and forehead especially during meals than CHF may need to be ruled out.
|Article||New Consideration of a Forgotten Treatment for Congestive Heart Failure, Vital Link; 2005 Fall|
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Congestive Heart Failure is considered a chronic disease. Addressing the underlying causes of CHF such as hypertension and obesity is often the therapeutic goal. CHF can be extremely complex and difficult to manage, especially if Stage III or IV. If the CHF is advanced it is common and often advisable for patient to work concurrently with their naturopathic doctor and MD and/or cardiologist., 
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- Reduce salt and increase potassium and magnesium rich foods. An emphasis on whole plant foods and reducing saturated fat is advised.
- Follow the guidelines for decreasing blood pressure.
- Cardio-protective diet with focus on specific foods including:
- Moderate exercise under the guidance of a health care professional is beneficial in improving fatigue levels in individuals with CHF. Exercise levels are recommended based on the severity of CHF. Programs may be as simple as begining with walking short distances and increase aerobic output over time. , 
- Tai Qi, Yoga and Qi-Gong are beneficial forms of exercise in CHF.
- Positive Mental Outlook. Focus on fulfilling your heart's desire and finding the joy in your life.
The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.
Naturopathic Therapies for congestive heart failure include:
- Clinical Nutritional Supplementation includes
- Vitamins such as Thiamine, Vitamin E with other balanced micronutrients., Vitamin C
- Minerals such as Magnesium,,  Calcium, Potassium
- Amino Acids such as arginine, taurine after assessing for deficiency.
- Other supplements such as L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, Omega-3 fatty acids
- Herbs such as Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Hawthorn (Crataegus ocyacantha), Cactus (Selenicerius grandifloris), Lily-of-the-valley (Convalaria majalis) and Foxglove (Digitalis purpurpea)., . Other herbs include: Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus), Linden or Lime (Tilia europa), Indian Poke (Veratrum viride) and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and Cape Aloes (Aloes socotrina). Nettle (Urtica dioica)
- Homeopathic remedies such as Arnica, Arsenicum, Cactus, Carbo-veg, Crataegus Digitalis, Glonoinum, Lycopodium
- Acupuncture can be beneficial in treating cardiovascular disorders.
- Short cold baths can be beneficial as well as constitutional hydrotherapy with sine machine.
Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND 
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