Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Does having Congestive Heart Failure mean that I am going to die soon?"
When I was diagnosed with severe Congestive Heart Failure at 50 years old, I was in shock. My doctor told me I had to give up my music teaching career and could not work. I was in the hospital every three weeks or so with fluid on my lungs or generalized fluid overload. While I was in the hospital, I was practically harassed daily by a resources representative to get my Living Will completed, and to sign a pink form stating that if and when I stopped breathing and death is imminent, how did I prefer that it be handled. When my nurse saw the pink form, she was very angry and told the rep that this form was not for me. I am confused. Does having CHF mean that I am going to die soon?
This is an important question to discuss with your cardiologist. Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened or dysfunctional to the point where it cannot effectively pump blood to the body or to the lungs. Everyone that has congestive heart failure is a bit different in terms of the severity of the disease, the original cause, and therefore their prognosis. For these reasons, it is not possible for me (and for your physicians for that matter) to quantify your prognosis accurately. I will say that congestive heart failure is not a disease that people typically live with for many decades. Some people who are initially diagnosed live less than a year while many live for many years. The most important thing for you to do now is to get on the right medications and make sure that you are following the right lifestyle to keep maintain your heart function. You should start by scheduling an appointment with your cardiologist. He or she can review the current medications you are on and make sure that your treatment regimen is optimal. Most people with congestive heart failure should be on at least two types of medications called an ACE inhibitor and a beta blocker. Other medications might be needed to lower cholesterol and to help with fluid retention. Good luck.
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