Congestive Heart Failure

What is it? And what can be done about it?

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) doesn’t mean the heart has actually failed. What it means is that the heart has an inability to provide one’s organs or tissues with all the oxygen and nutrients needed. It means the decrease in the amount of blood the heart pumps isn’t enough to circulate the blood returning to the heart from the body and lungs – causing fluid to leak from capillary blood vessels. This leads to shortness of breath, swelling and weakness.

Let us help put your mind at ease. If the person experiencing CHF gets the professional care, medical attention and treatment needed to help prevent a life-threatening incident, life expectancy with CHF can be extended. Risk factors for CHF are the same as for most other heart diseases: • Poorly controlled blood pressure • High cholesterol • Diabetes • Smoking • Family history • Age

Many people live healthfully with stabilized CHF, but when there is another illness or stress on the body, the heart de-compensates and symptoms worsen. This includes pneumonia, infection, or simply an exacerbation of symptoms for no known reason.

At Mother of Mercy, the treatment and control of CHF is individualized based on the goals the resident or family has established with their physician or cardiologist. Our care team can assist residents with their medications to ensure they are given consistently and correctly each day. This includes heart medications, as well as those prescribed to manage contributing factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

If symptoms worsen or vary from day-to-day, we can assist with the monitoring of daily weights and adjust diuretic medications with physician orders, to keep excessive fluid as controlled as possible. We can also assist with the placement of pressure stockings and remind residents to raise their legs above their heart several times a day. In addition, residents have daily opportunities for individual and group exercise with our Fit 4 Life Program that takes place daily. We encourage them to participate at their own pace and rest if need be. We’re here to help them get to and from exercise, assist with oxygen equipment or other assistive devices, and provide company and encouragement. We can also work with our on-site physical therapists in our Recovery Suites if a skilled exercise program is recommended.

Staying physically active is an important element in living with CHF. Limiting salt intake is another. At Mother of Mercy, all of our special diets are made with no added salt; however the choice is still up to each individual. Salt can be added at the table, if desired, or residents can add their own favorite salt-free seasoning. We help by providing gentle reminders and prompts about lower sodium choices, and offer half-portions for those who wish to limit their calorie intake. Meals are prepared by our three professional chefs, cooks and planned by our on-site Dietitian.

One of the challenges of CHF is the periodic worsening of symptoms. When this happens, we try to intervene as early as possible to allow the resident’s physician or cardiologist a chance to see their patient and adjust their treatment plan before hospitalization is required.

When a stay at the hospital is necessary, we have established a hospitalization protocol to ensure that our nurses are aware of and prepared for any changes in medication or treatment when the resident returns to Mother of Mercy. Discharge plans from the hospital are incorporated into their personalized Service Plan and may include: • New medication orders • New or modified respiratory treatments • Daily weights • Mobility restrictions • New PT, OT, or exercise guidelines

Information from physicians and hospitals is vital, as it guides our team in addressing and reporting problems, helping the resident to feel good again, and avoiding another trip to the hospital.

For more information about Mother of Mercy Senior Living, visit us at or call us at 320-845-2195

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