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Reply with quote  #1 
I may have asked this before, if so, I'm sorry, I seem to suffer from CRS lately...

Cardiologist checkup last week. Verdict: "Her heart is weak". Is this doctorspeak for anything quantifiable? I know congestive heart failure is unpredictable, but it sure would be nice to have some sort of timeframe. I guess that's just not possible, though? It's obvious that she is getting frailer over time.
Reply with quote  #2 
I would guess when he listens to her heart, the beat is not as strong as it was before, as it is not working as well as it did.

I looked up congestive heart failure and found this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF), or heart failure, is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to the body's other organs. This can result from
  • narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle â€” coronary artery disease
  • past heart attack, or myocardial infarction, with scar tissue that interferes with the heart muscle's normal work
  • high blood pressure
  • heart valve disease due to past rheumatic fever or other causes
  • primary disease of the heart muscle itself, called cardiomyopathy.
  • heart defects present at birth â€” congenital heart defects.
  • infection of the heart valves and/or heart muscle itself â€” endocarditis and/or myocarditis

The "failing" heart keeps working but not as efficiently as it should. People with heart failure can't exert themselves because they become short of breath and tired.

As blood flow out of the heart slows, blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing congestion in the tissues. Often swelling (edema) results. Most often there's swelling in the legs and ankles, but it can happen in other parts of the body, too. Sometimes fluid collects in the lungs and interferes with breathing, causing shortness of breath, especially when a person is lying down.

Hope that helps you some.

If you go to the cardiologist next time, ask him to explain it to you. I do that when I go with my mother, so I understand what he is talking about.

2nd kathy
Reply with quote  #3 
 My father went on hospice last December for CHF. They figured 6 months. It is now 8 months and he goes up and down. In March the hospice Doctor said he was in end stage heart failure. SO many times we thought...this is it, the downward spiral and then...he's back. He goes from being so weak he can barely stand on his own legs to chucking the walker for a couple days and getting around fine. But every little upswing lasts less time than the time before, This I read is the nature of CHF. He also has COPD. My RN daughter says she has such patients on her floor in the hospital and they go in these cycles. But she has also had patients that she's talked with fine at 2 pm who passed before she left her shift at 8pm. Dad is now on 5 liters of oxygen 24/7 that up from 1 liter last December. A steady progression. Monday his hospice nurse said that while his BP was good his heart rate was erratic/all over the place. RN daughter says heart rate goes first then BP though no one can foretell just how long this will go on. Today he was better again, over the weekend he was confused, trying to eat saltine crackers with a fork and saying "right field bleachers' out of the blue which meant???? who knows. Then back to lucid. Nurse says his heart is just not strong enough to consistently bump the blood and to get oxygen to his brain. Wish I had something more defined to tell you.
Reply with quote  #4 
"Her heart is weak" ????? Is that the best professional diagnosis they can come up with? Geez, you could've saved yourself the time and said it for them. Duh. It's like saying the Pope is Catholic. I mean, old person usually = weak heart, ok? Dontcha reckon they could've been more precise as to the exact condition of the parts concerned?
Oh I am really starting to think doctors like to play with our minds...
(Actually my dads heart has been "weak" for 15 years and still counting)
Reply with quote  #5 

My dad just went into the hospital tonight with CHF. This came right out of the blue, and I am trying to learn all I can about it. His BP is always great and he has never had heart problems.  I am just shaking my head right now.

Reply with quote  #6 
Well, it's a lot more complicated than that. Her cardiologist has been monitoring her for years, he's also her primary care doc, and she even worked in his office years ago, so he knows her very well. He does an echocardiogram periodically to check things, that's what led to "the heart is weak". He's said that before. But he also said she's gained some weight, because of the good meals and care in the AL. Of course, she didn't want to hear that, but it made US feel good!

When she was in the hospital back in March, the doc said "the prognosis is poor". A big wildcard in the equation is whether she is continuing to have her nightly cocktail. He said, if she is drinking, she may have a year or so left. If she's not drinking, her heart may be stronger than it looks now.

The problem is that she lies, and no one knows if she's participating in the AL's daily happy hour or not. We suspect she is, as my DH recognizes the nasty mood she has on the phone after a drink. Plus she had what looked like DT's when she was in the hospital in March.

The doc has lectured her on no drinking, so have we, but she's going to do what she wants. She smokes too, and likes salty snacks. What can ya do??!!

2nd kathy
Reply with quote  #7 

My dad experiences all that Nancy2 has posted with her article: gasping for breath, fluid collecting in legs, in lungs, narcotic drops to help him breath, out of breath with any little exertion......yet on he lives. He is diabetic too but cheats, eats salty snacks, I've given up on trying to make him behave. He takes 160 mg of lasix a day which is a lot to keep the fluid down but his legs are like tree trunks. They've added zaroxolyn to boost the working of lasix and still he goes up and down with only 5 pounds. I think with him, it is just a matter of denial and he just refuses to pass on. I am reminded of ~OK's~ dad, ie: the energizer bunny...I got one of them too and when he's feeling well on one of his good upswings....he's more than a handful; the king on his throne. I do better when he's failing. He's humble and I can kick into compassion mode quite easily. Bottom line is weak heart can go on and on....

Reply with quote  #8 
Hi SheilaJ
My mom has CHF....had a run to the hospital in May 2006 where she had to be intubated in intensive care for more than a week....they had to knock her out for that time because she was fighting the tube down her throat....they gave her a slim chance of making it.

She lived..  Then she was home (nearly bedridden most of the time) for about 8 months....

The heart docs say her heart is HUGE in her chest cavity...they predicted she would be dead in July 2006....and guess what.

She is still here.  Sits up drawing and painting (an artist) every day, watches Fox News and EWTN (Rosary and Mass), visits with people.  She can only walk to the bathroom and a littel around her room....otherwise, we use a small wheelchair....for all 115 lbs of her.

But, she has had a quality of life...she is happy, but weak. 

The docs tell me they have never seen someone with a heart this huge who is still, who knows.!  I know that the docs don't know.

I am wishing you the best with your is so good that we can all lean on one another...I have learned so much on this board.


Reply with quote  #9 
I would have CHF too, because of my mitral valve replacement.
I have to take big doses of Lasix every day.
My heart is weak, also.
The weakness probably means that it can't pump as hard, or as regularly as it is supposed to. 
But with the right treatment, and the right meds, it might do just fine.
I wish the best for the both of you.
~ k ~
Reply with quote  #10 

Yikes, Molly.

Reply with quote  #11 
This may be contrary to many people's thinking, but once a person hits a certain age/stage/condition, call it what you will, the days (or years) are limited. I figure just let them do what they want and be happy.  I draw the line at unsupervised smoking for fear of fire and burns. Why make an alcoholic who is dying stop drinking?  Why make a person who has entered a terminal stage stop whatever led them there?
If it's a reversible condition or the time you are buying would mean a better quality of life then go for it.  Otherwise, why
take away their "best friend" so to speak?  Just an opinion.
Reply with quote  #12 
lifeisgood, I agree. The AL has a great photo in the lobby. It's an elderly woman with a big smile on her face and her birthday cake, with those number candles that say "100". She's lighting the candles with her cigarette!!

MIL has to smoke in designated smoking areas for safety reasons, it's the front porch are where lots of people are around. She's not an alcoholic, I don't think, but she's always had a cocktail or two before dinner.

The smoking and drinking, given her heart condition, used to really bother me, but most of the time now, I'm OK with it.
Reply with quote  #13 

Who knows, anyway?   One of my great-uncles preferred "fat" on any meat; would eat that first, then eat the lean if he wanted.  He drank any 'likker' he could get his hands on...he had a roll-your-own cigarette in his mouth every waking hour.   He was strong...clear minded...and walked with the dignity of a military "wheel".  Not sick a day in his life...until he dropped age 97.  Yep.  Whiskey and cigarettes 'killed' him.  Finally.   

Reply with quote  #14 
I like the headstone that read:

Gave up coffee in 1968.
Gave up cigarettes in 1976.
Gave up alcohol in 1982.
Gave up red meat in 1984.

Died anyway ... 1986.

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