Overview of Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF), also known as chronic heart failure, is a condition in which the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. It’s a confusing term because it’s not that the heart has completely failed or stopped beating. Instead, it’s unable to get enough blood to vital organs, which negatively affects their ability to function. This leads to a general decline in health and vitality.
Congestive heart failure can range quite a bit in severity. CHF can be very mild with little to no symptoms. It can also be severe enough to be life-threatening.
As of 2017, 5.7 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with CHF. Each year, there are 915,000 new cases. Once you hit age 40, the risk of developing CHF is 1 in 5. Experts predict that the number of CHF patients will rise 46% from 5.7 million people to over 8 million people by 2030.
That means 1 in every 33 people will have heart failure in 2030.
It’s a scary scenario, especially because, as it progresses, CHF tends to be more and more debilitating. Without making diet and lifestyle changes, CHF can majorly affect your ability to work, stay active, and enjoy life. But stay tuned! There are ways to slow or even reverse congestive heart failure if you’re willing to put in some effort! CHF doesn’t have to be a life-long illness or struggle. There are definitely things you can do to improve heart health.
Let’s begin with some of the symptoms of CHF.
Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure
According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue and weakness
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased alertness
- Nausea and poor appetite
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Swelling in the belly area
- Chronic cough or wheezing
- Coughing up mucus, sometimes with blood
- Rapid weight gain from fluid buildup
If these symptoms suddenly worsen, it’s time to get medical help. Here are a few other symptoms that may mean calling 911: extreme weakness, fainting, chest pain, shortness of breath, a fast or irregular heartbeat, and coughing up white or pink foamy mucus.
It’s best to prevent it from getting this far. A diagnosis of heart failure doesn’t have to be a death sentence. There are all kinds of diet and lifestyle changes that you can make to improve heart health.
6 Natural Ways to Improve Heart Health With CHF
You can improve your heart and overall wellness even if you have chronic heart failure. Researchers have found that heart failure can be reversible when caused by intense, whole-body inflammation.
1. Reduce Toxins
Toxins, including environmental chemicals and heavy metals, can lead to cardiotoxicity, a toxin-induced injury to the heart. Eventually, cardiotoxicity can lead to a diagnosis of congestive heart failure. Scientists are beginning to recognize this as a problem, and “Environmental Cardiology” is an emerging field that’s exploring the connection between pollution and heart disease.
A review study published in the British Medical Journal evaluated the effects of toxic metals and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Exposures to arsenic, lead, cadmium, and copper were all associated with cardiovascular disease.
When you come into a Wellness Way clinic, your doctor will evaluate your current state of health in terms of the fireman vs. carpenter principle to see if you need traditional allopathic care at that time or whether you’ve lowered inflammation to the extent that you can start working with your local carpenter (TWW) to remove the debris (detox) and start the process of restoration.
2. Remove Allergenic Foods
Chronic inflammation plays a key role in most modern diseases, including heart disease. Unknowingly eating foods you’re allergic to or that cause an immune response is a major source of chronic inflammation.
We know the cardiovascular system is affected by allergic reactions to foods. Going into anaphylaxis from eating foods like shrimp or peanuts is a good example of how the heart reacts to allergens. Symptoms may include a sudden drop in blood pressure, racing heart, abnormal heart rhythms, and even a heart attack.
However, not everyone who has food allergies or sensitivities has anaphylactic reactions when consuming foods that they are allergic to. Some people will simply have inflammation in the cardiovascular system, which goes unnoticed until there’s a diagnosable symptom.
3. Improve Sleep
Chronic insomnia or unrefreshing sleep are other potential contributors to cardiovascular disease and congestive heart failure. Insomnia, with its associated sleep deprivation and lower melatonin production, tends to increase stress in the body, leading to a chronic state of “fight or flight.”
Interestingly, melatonin is protective against heart disease. In an animal study of CHF, high-dose melatonin treatment reversed damage from heart failure. However, it required a super high dose of melatonin equivalent to taking a couple of bottles a day.
Unrefreshing sleep is often due to sleep apnea. Both types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central, are more common in heart failure patients than in the general population.
Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing multiple times throughout the night, leading to low oxygen levels (hypoxia). That, along with the ongoing stimulation of “fight or flight” and increased stress on the heart can contribute to the development or worsening of heart failure.
It’s important to work on the causes of insomnia and sleep apnea. When you have a higher sleep quality, the heart tends to work better. There are numerous reasons for a lack of nourishing sleep, from organ and system function to environmental factors. Here are another 8 tips to get better sleep.
4. Address Nutrient Deficiencies
Certain nutrient deficiencies are associated with cardiovascular disease and heart failure. You can become nutrient-deficient in a few different ways:
- Not consuming enough nutrients due to a poor diet
- Low levels because of disease (either requiring more or the inability to produce nutrients)
- Poor gut health, leading to absorption issues
- Taking medications that deplete nutrients
- The body’s ability to convert and use specific nutrients due to improper function
Deficiencies in minerals or antioxidants can contribute to CHF. That’s why it’s crucial to eat a whole-food nutrient-dense diet that’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from organically raised and grass-fed/free-range sources.
Medications can deplete nutrients that the heart needs to function. For example, statin drugs deplete the body’s production of CoQ10, an essential component for energy production. Doctors often recommend it as a supplement if you are taking statins. Corticosteroids deplete magnesium, a vital mineral for the heart.
There’s a variety of nutrients that may support the body when dealing with CHF. However, each person is different, so it’s essential to test first to see which ones you need. Certain supplements can also interact with medications. So, be sure to share with your doctor everything you’re taking.
5. Support Your Thyroid
It may be surprising, but thyroid health impacts heart health. A significant percentage of heart failure patients have some type of thyroid condition.
Scientists have found thyroid hormones to be protective of the heart. When the thyroid is dysfunctional, it impacts how the heart muscle contracts, blood pressure, heart size, heart rate, and how well the heart works. Ultimately, a dysfunctional thyroid could lead to heart failure.
Dysfunction can as hyperthyroidism (over-functioning thyroid) or hypothyroidism (under-functioning thyroid). Some CHF patients have low T3 syndrome, which sets them up for worse outcomes.
The great thing is that there are natural ways to support your thyroid.
6. Stay in The State of Gratitude
Stress is a key player in the development of cardiovascular disease and heart failure. Gratitude is a wonderful antidote. Scientists in California decided to see whether gratitude could help Stage B heart failure patients who did not have symptoms but were at high risk of developing symptomatic Stage C heart failure.
In the study, half the 186 patients kept a gratitude journal. They wrote in it daily for eight weeks. At the end of the eight weeks, the group focusing on gratitude had better heart function, lower inflammatory markers, better sleep, better energy, and better mood than the control group.
Improve Heart Health – The Wellness Way!
Here, at The Wellness Way, we don’t guess; we test! It’s important to know which of the 3 T’s (traumas, toxins, and thoughts) are affecting your ability to heal. After hearing your story, we’ll use state-of-the-art testing to help better understand the function of your body. From food allergies to system and organ function, we can help you determine how to support your body so that it can heal itself. Each person’s journey is unique. What works for one may not work for another. This is why we do health differently! Contact a Wellness Way clinic today to start your health restoration journey!
- Global Public Health Burden of Heart Failure – PMC (nih.gov)
- Forecasting the Impact of Heart Failure in the United States – PMC (nih.gov)
- Heart failure – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
- Reversible heart failure: the role of inflammatory activation.
- Mechanisms of Cardiotoxicity and the Development of Heart Failure – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Environmental Cardiology | (ahajournals.org)
- Indoor Pollutants and Sources | US EPA
- Environmental toxic metal contaminants and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis – PMC (nih.gov)
- The inflammation theory of disease – PMC (nih.gov)
- Allergy and the cardiovascular system – PMC (nih.gov)
- Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease- a Review of the Recent Literature – PMC (nih.gov)
- Melatonin in Heart Failure: A Promising Therapeutic Strategy? – PMC (nih.gov)
- Heart Failure and Sleep Apnea – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Coenzyme Q10 – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Magnesium supplementation alleviates corticosteroid-associated muscle atrophy in rats – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Biochemistry and pathophysiology of congestive heart failure: is there a role for magnesium? – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Thyroid hormones and heart failure – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Congestive Heart Failure and Thyroid Dysfunction: The Role of the Low T3 Syndrome and Therapeutic Aspects – PubMed (nih.gov)
- The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients – PMC (nih.gov)