More than 6 million people in the United States have congestive heart failure, which is caused by many conditions that damage the heart muscle. It’s the most common diagnosis in hospitalized patients over age 65. One in nine deaths has heart failure as a contributing cause.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) (also called heart failure) is a serious progressive condition in which the heart muscle is less able to contract or is structurally limited in its ability to fill with blood. As a result, the heart’s pumping action can’t keep up with the body’s demand. Blood returns to the heart faster than it can be pumped out resulting in not enough oxygen-rich blood getting circulated to the body’s other organs.
To compensate the heart beats faster to take less time for refilling after it contracts—but over the long run, less blood circulates, and the extra effort can cause heart palpitations. The heart chamber enlarges to make room for the extra blood, or the chamber walls become stiff and thickened. The lungs fill with fluid, causing shortness of breath. The kidneys typically respond by causing the body to retain fluid (water) and salt. If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, or other organs, thus the body becomes congested.
In heart failure, the release of hormones causes the blood vessels to constrict or tighten. The heart must work hard to pump blood through the constricted vessels. Angiotensin converting enzyme, or ACE, is a natural enzyme in the body that activates the hormone angiotensin, which causes blood vessels to constrict, thus increasing blood pressure. Inhibiting ACE can return blood pressure to lower levels. It's important to keep your blood pressure controlled so that your heart can pump more effectively without extra stress.
It may become necessary to keep track of the amount of fluid you drink and how often you go to the bathroom. The more fluid you carry in your blood vessels, the harder your heart must work to pump excess fluid through your body. Limiting your fluid intake to less than 2 liters per day will help decrease the workload of your heart and prevent symptoms from coming back.
Limit how much salt (sodium) you eat. Sodium is found naturally in many foods we eat. It's also added for flavoring or to make food last longer. If you follow a low-sodium diet, you should have less fluid retention, less swelling, and breathe easier.
People who have already have heart failure should consume no more than one to two cups of coffee per day, according to the American Heart Association.
Do not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, Motrin or Aleve, Class I sodium channel-blocking drugs, antacids that contain sodium (salt), and decongestants such as Sudafed.
Don't overdo! Plan your activities and include rest periods during the day. Certain activities, such as pushing or pulling heavy objects and shoveling may worsen heart failure and its symptoms.
Beneficial Supplements include:
Hawthorn Berry: According to Mount Sinai Medical many studies conclude that hawthorn significantly improved heart function. Studies also suggest that the herb can enhance a person's ability to exercise following heart failure. Participants in studies have reported that hawthorn significantly improved symptoms of the disease (such as shortness of breath and fatigue). One study found that hawthorn extract (900 mg/day) taken for 2 months was as effective as low doses of captopril (a prescription heart medication) in improving symptoms of heart failure.
Another large study found that a standardized hawthorn supplement was effective in 952 people with heart failure. The study compared conventional methods of treating heart failure (with different medications) with hawthorn alone and in addition to the drugs. After 2 years, the clinical symptoms of heart failure (palpitations, breathing problems, and fatigue) decreased significantly in people taking the hawthorn supplement. People taking hawthorn also took less medication for their condition.
Resveratrol : is a compound in the skin of red grapes, blueberries and other botanicals. Research suggests, “Resveratrol (RES) may have ACE-inhibitory capabilities, adding to its potential for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Additionally, resveratrol may suppress some of the adverse effects of angiotensin II, such as vascular smooth muscle cell overgrowth (hypertrophy). It is clear that the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of RES on HFpEF-induced cardiac remodeling are completely complex and various. A study published in the Frontiers in Pharmacology, March 18, 2022 also states, “The nutritional agent RES may exert protective effect in the setting of HFpEF by combining anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-fibrotic actions coupled with improved cardiac stiffness. ACE inhibitors dilate the blood vessels to improve your blood flow. This helps decrease the amount of work the heart has to do. They also help block a substance in the blood called angiotensin that is made as a result of heart failure”.
Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) Beta-blockers are prescribed for heart failure because they reduce the hormones that cause heart failure symptoms. Beta-blockers stop the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline), and this causes the heart to beat slower and lowers your blood pressure. Research published in the February 19, 2020, Journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine showed Kyolic aged garlic extract significantly lowered central blood pressure, pulse pressure, pulse wave velocity and arterial stiffness.
Clinical research shows that AGE also reduces oxidation and inflammation, and increases the production of nitric oxide (a molecule that dilates blood vessels for better blood flow).
AGE also works on the microcirculatory system—that network of tiny capillaries, arterioles, and venules that moves blood from larger blood vessels to your cells. This was shown in a recent study published in the International Wound Journal. Among 122 people who took part in the study, those who supplemented with AGE for a year had better microcirculation than those taking a placebo.
Beet Root: increases levels of nitric oxide (NO), which serves multiple functions related to increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondrial biogenesis and efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction. Nitric oxide (NO) is produced from virtually all cell types composing the myocardium and regulates cardiac function through both vascular-dependent and -independent effects.
Published in the 2018 journal Molecular Cell, researchers confirmed their findings in human tissue samples, collected from hearts involved in transplants. In nearly two-thirds of failing heart samples, they found that nitric oxide determined signaling balance to the arrestin pathway. Many hearts showed evidence of nitric oxide deficiency (arrestin activation). Dr. Jonathan Stamler, MD stated, "Without nitric oxide, heart rate and contractility can't increase, and thus hearts fail,"
There are many other supplements that are helpful, however always consult with your health practitioner before taking any supplements.
At the Tree of Life Wellness Center we have helped numerous patients with Congestive Heart Failure with healthful dietary changes and supplementation that won’t interfere with their current medications.
CHF is a serious health concern and there are numerous considerations including health history, medications and medical treatments that need to be taken into consideration before making any recommendations. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 508-336-4242. Telephone appointments are available too!
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center
Host Holistic Healthline Radio