Health & Wellness Resources


Coping with a Congestive Heart Failure Diagnosis


Congestive heart failure (CHF) can be a scary diagnosis for everyone involved. Patients may become concerned about their future; loved ones and caregivers can become overwhelmed by treatment plans and on-going care, not to mention the emotional strain of the diagnosis itself.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with CHF, take a deep breath and educate yourself. Taking the time to understand the diagnosis is essential to managing the condition, and treating it as it progresses.


Understand the Diagnosis

More than 5 million people are diagnosed with heart failure every year, according to the American Heart Association. Congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure where inadequate blood flow causes fluid build-up in the lungs or body (often around the arms, hands or legs). Heart failure is a chronic condition, which means the disease will continue to progress. The American Heart Association has created four stages to describe each level of the disease:

  • Stage A is often used for individuals who are at high risk of developing heart failure, but have not yet been diagnosed. They may have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, family history, coronary artery disease and others.
  • Stage B is when individuals have systolic left ventricle dysfunction, but have not been diagnosed with heart failure. This could include people who have valve disease, cardiomyopathy or suffered a heart attack.
  • Stage C is used when people have known heart disease and are exhibiting symptoms of congestive heart failure, including fluid build-up, shortness of breath, fatigue and inability to exercise.
  • Stage D refers to advanced heart failure and continued progression of the disease, despite continued, on-going care.

While you can’t reverse the progression of heart failure, there are many things you can do to manage the condition and slow its progression.


Manage Congestive Heart Failure

Your doctor will go over the treatment and management plan that’s right for your loved one. Depending on the type of congestive heart failure, and its stage, treatment could include eating healthy, taking prescribed medicines, exercise when possible or even surgery.

Just as important as following the doctor’s guidelines for managing the disease is planning for its progression. As hard as it may be to sit down and consider the future, doing so is a crucial step in making sure you’re prepared for what may come. Consider:

  • A plan for continued care
  • Care options if staying at home is no longer the best option
  • A living will to help make health care decisions when your loved one is unable to do so for him or herself
  • An agreement about when care should be discontinued

If you need short term rehabilitation and skilled nursing care following a hospital stay,  Heartland-ManorCare’s skilled and experienced staff is here to provide the care and support you need before returning home. We work closely with you to develop a care plan that’s right for you or your loved one.

Our long-term residential options include nursing home care, assisted living and independent living that can evolve to provide the level of care needed to ensure your loved one is living with as much independence as possible.

Formore information on our cardiac care and therapy programs or to find the facility nearest you, please go to