Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart cannot pump out enough blood to meet the needs of the body. Any form of heart disease may lead to CHF, which results in a reduced ability to exercise and in severe cases can impair daily function. CHF is the most common cause of death for people over age 65.

Signs and Symptoms

What Causes It?

CHF can be the result of any type of heart disease or condition. The following factors make it more likely that you will get CHF.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your health care provider will focus on identifying the cause and precipitating factors for CHF. Procedures include blood tests and electrocardiograms (ECG). Surgery may be needed if you have severe CHF.

Treatment Options

Drug Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Nutrition and herbal medicine can play an important role in increasing the strength of the heart without also increasing its workload.



Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. of herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. Hawthorn should be included in any treatment. In addition, use a combination of four to six of the above herbs at 1 cup tea three times per day or 30 to 60 drops tincture three times per day.

Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy.

Physical Medicine
Castor oil pack. Apply oil directly to chest, cover with a clean soft cloth and plastic wrap. Place a heat source over the pack and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes. For best results use three consecutive days.

Contrast hydrotherapy. Alternate hot and cold applications to the chest. Alternate three minutes hot with one minute cold. Repeat three times to complete one set. Do two to three sets per day. For very sick patients, use cool and warm applications to decrease the contrast.

May be helpful for increasing circulation and cardiac strength.

May help increase lymphatic drainage and reduce swelling.

Following Up

It is very important to prevent the heart disease from getting worse by getting plenty of exercise, eating a proper diet, and avoiding health risks.

Special Considerations

CHF is dangerous during pregnancy. The first two weeks after giving birth is particularly dangerous for women with CHF.


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