What’s the congestive heart failure life expectancy? Here you will obtain a thorough answer to that question and others about heart failure.
Congestive heart failure is a chronic progressive disease. It affects your heart muscles’ pumping power and makes your heart draw blood inefficiently.
In the following article, you will find a doctor’s answers to the most common questions patients ask about heart failure—for example, congestive heart failure definition and stages. However, the main goal here will be to tell the congestive heart failure life expectancy for patients living with this condition and many other frequent doubts about this particular topic.
Don’t worry; we’ll be reviewing basic concepts first, such as heart failure, the stages, and management. The most critical element will be to give you a global understanding of this particular topic.
What’s congestive heart failure?
First, we’ll need to talk about the configuration of the heart and its normal functioning. It is necessary for understanding what happens in congestive heart failure.
The heart has four cavities or chambers: two atria (upper chambers) and two ventricles (lower chambers). These chambers dilate to receive the blood (diastole) and then contract to send this blood towards other organs or tissues (systole).
Furthermore, the atria’s function is to receive blood as it recirculates from your organs and other body parts. The ventricles’ role is to receive the blood from the atria and pump that blood to your body’s organs and tissues.
Additionally, you’ll need to know that the left and right parts of the heart have different functions. The right side of your heart receives blood with no oxygen coming from all the tissues in your body through the veins. Then, it pumps that blood towards the lungs in order to obtain blood with oxygen or oxygenated blood. The blood with oxygen returns from the lungs to reach the left part of the heart. This side of the heart will pump the blood with oxygen to all the body through the arteries.
Heart Failure describes the heart’s inability or failure to meet the needs of organs and tissues for oxygen and nutrients. This situation represents a decrease in cardiac output, the amount of blood that the heart pumps.
In a nutshell, the heart’s functioning is not adequate to pump the blood that is returning to it from the body and lungs. Sometimes, this inadequate blood circulation can cause fluids (mainly water) to leak from capillary blood vessels. Therefore, it will cause fluid overload, and that’s what we know as Congestive Heart Failure.
What are the stages of congestive heart failure?
As we mentioned before, congestive heart failure is a chronic and progressive disease. Hence, it is an ailment that can and tends to aggravate over time, especially if the patient has many risk factors to develop this condition or the patient is not receiving treatment.
There are four stages of Congestive Heart Failure, divided by the symptoms that the person has. The treatment, management, and possible outcomes vary between each one of them.
- First-class: You won’t experience any symptoms during the performance of the physical activity.
- Second-class: You’re likely comfortable at rest, but you may experience shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and fatigue during normal physical activities.
- Third-class: You’re likely comfortable at rest, but even mild exercise can cause symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and palpitations, which produces noticeable limitation of physical activity.
- Fourth-class: You’re unable to perform any physical activity without symptoms, which may be present even at rest.
A patient suffering from heart failure or congestive heart failure may be able to stop or slow down the progression of the disease by making simple changes in their lifestyle, such as:
- Cutting down smoking or drinking alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Eating balanced meals to prevent obesity and other cardiovascular problems and receiving medical treatment.
What’s the systolic heart failure life expectancy?
Systolic heart failure happens when the left ventricle fails to function correctly, generally due to less heart muscle contraction. This results in less force available to push blood into the circulation, less amount of blood that the heart ejects, known as ejection fraction (EF), reducing the amount of oxygen that tissues receive.
The life expectancy of this type of heart failure depends directly on the ejection fraction (EF) that the patient manages. The average value of EF is around 50%-70%. Unfortunately, many studies show that the mortality (or chances of dying) is higher when a person has heart failure with a low ejection fraction than those with a preserved EF. The latter have a better prognosis (or possible outcomes).
For example, the mortality rate of a patient with low EF is around 26%. In comparison, the mortality rate of a patient with preserved EF is approximately 22%. That is to say that nearly three of every ten patients with low EF will die. On the other hand, from every ten patients with preserved EF, two will die.
However, people must keep in mind that this situation changes with each circumstance. When it comes to health, every factor counts.
What’s the diastolic heart failure life expectancy?
Diastolic heart failure occurs when the muscle in the left ventricle becomes stiff for many reasons. Basically, the heart muscle is not relaxing correctly, making it impossible for the heart to fill with as much blood as it used to. This situation reduces the amount of blood that is pushed to the blood vessels.
Like the systolic heart failure, diastolic heart failure life expectancy varies depending on the cause of diastolic heart failure. Also, it depends on several factors, such as the severity of a person’s symptoms, the degree to which other organ systems are involved, and his or her response to medications.
How do congestive heart failure patients die?
There are a variety of causes that may prompt a patient with congestive heart failure to die. In years of studies, physicians have found that the leading causes of the dead for patients with this disease include both cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular causes.
Nonetheless, cardiovascular causes represent the majority of the reasons for death for patients with diagnosed heart failure. Myocardial infarction (heart attack), progressive heart failure, arrhythmias (abnormal heart rate), and sudden death are the principal causes of cardiovascular death.
How long can an older adult live with congestive heart failure?
It is essential to make the difference between heart failure and congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure is considered an exacerbation of heart failure.
The poor circulation of the blood can cause fluids to leak to other tissues of the body where they don’t belong, such as the lungs, for example. This results in pulmonary edema, making it even more difficult for the different organs in the body to receive the oxygen they need to work correctly.
Basically, having congestive heart failure decreases the life expectancy of the person. It increases the mortality risk if the patient doesn’t receive medical assistance.
In the case of heart failure, it is challenging to estimate how long a person can live with the condition. It depends on many factors, but the most important to calculate these patients’ life expectancy are age, BMI (body mass index), creatinine levels, ejection fraction, and systolic blood pressure.
Of course, other risk factors such as preexisting heart disease, unhealthy lifestyle, smoking, the fact that the patient is receiving ACE inhibitors or not, can aggravate the curse of heart failure. Taking this into account, a younger person has an overall better prognosis than an older adult.
Can you recover from heart failure?
Considering congestive heart failure as a complication or clinical worsening of heart failure, the answer is yes. The patient may require hospitalization for close medical vigilance and application of special treatment to control the fluid overload and return to their usual condition and prevent further complications.
However, you cannot recover from heart failure. It is a chronic condition whose only definite cure is the heart transplant. But don’t worry, nowadays there are many ways of treating heart failure, depending on the course of each patient’s case.
In general terms, all patients can benefit from lifestyle changes such as increasing cardiovascular exercises, quitting bad habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol, among others.
Besides, some patients will require medical treatment with ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers. Lastly, a small portion of patients will require invasive treatments or procedures such as a ventricular assist device or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, depending on the patient’s symptoms and the underlying cause of heart failure.
How to use the life expectancy calculator for this condition?
As we mentioned before, many risk factors can influence a person’s life expectancy living with heart failure. The congestive heart failure calculator is a tool that takes into account all of these risk factors and makes an estimation of life expectancy and the prognosis in a 1-year and 3-year period.
Each variable has its score, depending on how much it influences the prediction of the disease. You can find many calculators online, but you’ll need to have precise information like age, sex, BMI, creatinine levels (an enzyme produced by the muscles), ejection fraction (EF), systolic blood pressure (sBP), the stage of the heart failure.
Additionally, you’ll need the information on the patient’s medical history, like whether the patient is in treatment with ACE/ARB of Beta-blockers medication, heart failure history in the family, current smoking habit, and diabetes.
Remember, this is only an estimate. You have the power to make all the right decisions to keep a healthier lifestyle and take your medications.
This way, you can improve your overall health and prognosis. Remember that heart failure is not a death sentence; in fact, the general population’s survival rate is around 81% in the first year, followed by 51.5% in the 5-year mark and almost 30% in the 10-year mark.
In other words, people with a new heart failure diagnosis, eight out of ten will survive the first year. After five years with the diagnosis, half of the patients will die. Finally, after ten years of the diagnosis from every ten patients, only three survive.
Please, always keep in mind that these are only estimations. It varies between patients.
Do you have symptoms of it?
This tool is a congestive heart failure symptoms checker. It has the most critical sings, symptoms, and risk factors for heart failure. Therefore, it will tell anybody who uses it the likelihood of having or developing in the future this condition. Besides, it is free and would only take a few minutes to complete.