Care and Management of Congestive Heart Failure in Seniors

Heart Health for Senior Citizens

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), often known as heart disease, is the weakness of the heart that further leads to a buildup of fluid in the lungs and surrounding body tissues. The prevalence of congestive heart failure is increasing in people aged 65 years or older and is the most common reason for hospitalization of older adults. A majority of people in this age group have age-related cardiovascular changes and chronic illnesses that can contribute to heart failure. When it comes to heart failure, self-efficacy is very beneficial and can have positive effects on confidence and the ability to recover from CHF symptoms.

The reasoning behind why heart failure develops is due to other conditions that have deteriorated the heart. Although the heart doesn’t need to be weakened to cause heart failure, it is a very common factor of CHF. Individuals with CHF have debilitated heart muscles that cause the ventricles in the heart to not fill properly between beats. CHF becomes lethal when the heart is unable to complete its job of supplying the rest of the body with blood.

There are chronic and acute conditions of heart failure, and both include symptoms of: dyspnea, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain.

If you experience one or more symptoms of heart failure, chest pain, fainting, or rapid or irregular heartbeat associated with shortness of breath, consider seeing a doctor or cardiologist. Preceding diagnosis, a physical exam will be performed which may include: electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), echo cardiogram, and stress tests. However, there are treatments that can improve the signs and symptoms as well as continue to help older adults live longer.

Some of the medical treatments for congestive heart failure are:

  1. Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors widen the blood vessels and make it easier for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.
  2. Antiplatelet is used to stop blood clots by preventing platelets in the blood from building up.
  3. Beta-blockers decrease the heart rate and reduce the strength needed for the heart to pump.

 

The main focus of managing CHF is to alleviate the symptoms and prevent hospitalization. According to the Institute of Geriatric Cardiology, being in control of CHF is “defined as having no limitation in basic daily activities and being able to walk at least one block without symptoms.” Seniors should have a fixed fluid balance, blood pressure of 100 or more, and a heart rate of 60-85 beats per minute. Management of other pre-existing conditions or illnesses may contribute to the progress of CHF management. Adults that are not committed to exercising may find some of the lifestyle changes associated with CHF, such as weight management, to be difficult. However, self-efficacy is an effective way to increase physical activity and encourages seniors to be as active as possible.

About 25% of seniors admitted with congestive heart failure are often re-admitted in a month. Our Director of Patient Services, Marisa Deaussou explained that “At Poet’s Walk, our wellness staff aims to reduce hospital readmissions and encourage a healthier lifestyle. The Signature Touches we provide have a real impact on the wellness of our clients’ mental and physical health. Our holistic and individualized approach to senior living offers is what allows us to provide enhanced care services to those with specific health conditions.”

At Poet’s Walk, a Spring Hills Memory Care Community, we aim to decrease the need for hospitalization and improve the functionality of elderly adults with severe congestive heart failure. Our home health care services also have a cost-effective advantage and a major impact on health values.