• Boston Senior Medicine

All About Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a result of damage to the heart, sometimes by uncontrolled high blood pressure, a heart valve issue, or something else. As a result, the chambers of the heart are no longer able to fill and eject blood properly. This leads to a back up of blood/fluid throughout the body and/or poor blood flow throughout the body.

If your provider suspects CHF, they may order a chest xray to look at the structures of the heart and/or lungs, as well as an ECG/EKG to view the electrical currents of the heart. They may also order an echocardiogram, which shows the movements of the heart in real time. With it, your provider is able to see how well your heart ejects blood.


The treatment and management of CHF may include diuretics (water pills) which remove excess fluid from the body through urine. This eases thw workload of the heart and helps it temporarily function better. Some patients take duiretics daily, while some take diuretics on an as needed basis. It will depend on what you and your provider decide is best.

Treatment may also include:

- an ACE inhibitor or an ARB

- both reduce the chemicals that make blood vessels narrow so blood can move more freely

- a beta blocker

- lowers the heart rate, reducing blood pressure and workload on the heart

- a blood thinner

- prevents and/or treats clots

- a cholesterol medication

- reduces your blood cholesterol level.


CHF must be properly managed to prevent complications, including Refractory CHF. Refractory CHF occurs when the above and more advanced treatments are unable to relieve the symptoms of CHF. Refractory CHF may be preventable with appropriate management, good follow up, and open communication with your healthcare provider.


Last Updated October 2019

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