Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide and the most common reason for hospitalization. Attempting to make sense of this sometimes scary subject matter can be overwhelming. Luckily, learning about congestive heart failure (CHF) can feel less intimidating if you understand the stages of this disease.
If you or a loved one suffers from CHF, understanding the different stages can help you understand a doctor’s recommended course of treatment. It can also help you know when to seek help.
Today, we will examine chest heart failure stages and what to expect through all congestive heart failure stages.
The Congestive Heart Failure Stages
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Stages are categorized based on the severity of the heart condition over time. The five stages of congestive heart failure are:
Mild Congestive Heart Failure (Stage I)
Stage I, or Mild Congestive Heart Failure, is the least severe form of the condition. It is usually marked by heart failure shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the feet, ankles, and lower legs.
Patients with heart failure may be sent to a heart failure specialist or cardiologist for long-term care. If these symptoms worsen, it’s essential to get medical help immediately.
Moderate Congestive Heart Failure (Stage II)
Moderate Congestive Heart Failure Stage II is a stage of heart failure in which patients may feel short of breath, tired, and have swollen limbs. At this stage, physical activity doesn’t cause major symptoms, but the patient’s condition may worsen if nothing is done to treat the cause of the heart failure.
Because the heart function is getting worse, it is essential to keep a close eye on the patient during this stage. This ensures that heart failure doesn’t progress to the worsening stage.
Severe Congestive Heart Failure (Stage III)
At this point, the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. At Stage III, the lungs fill with fluid, making breathing hard. Tests like X-rays, echocardiograms, and blood tests
Refractory Congestive Heart Failure (Stage IV)
Stage IV, also called refractory congestive heart failure, is characterized by severe shortness of breath, extreme tiredness, and a steady fluid buildup that worsens over time. Even with aggressive medical care, it is tough, if not impossible, to get rid of CHF symptoms at this point. Most patients have more than one comorbidity and organ system dysfunction, which can cause other problems.
Most of the time, doctors treat CHF by improving the symptoms instead of fixing the real problems that caused it. Patients can choose palliative care, which usually means taking care of pain and other symptoms instead of treating the causes of CHF and its symptoms more aggressively.
End-stage Congestive Heart Failure (Stage V)
At this point, the heart can’t pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the body’s needs, which means that the person is nearing the end of life. In some situations, a heart transplant is needed to recover.
Know Your Heart!
Knowing and understanding the congestive heart failure stages is essential because they can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. The best ways to help someone who might have CHF are to know about it and be ready for it.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with CHF, take charge of your health today. Learn about the stages and prognosis today and talk to your doctor or nurse to find out more and talk about treatment options.
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Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.