Can a traumatic event cause congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 26, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband was involved in a motorcycle/car accident and sustained many injuries including 11 fractured vertebrae, 7 fractured ribs, lung contusions, fluid in the lungs and also a small pericardial effusion amongst many abrasions and bruising. He was in the hospital for 5 weeks and during that time was unable to eat without gagging and retching, once home symptoms did not get any better. In November he was admitted to hospital again because he was so weak and had lost 50 pounds from not eating.

He came back home again and in December (Christmas Eve) I took him back to the hospital because his body had swelled so badly from fluid. You guessed it, congestive heart failure and after many tests and observation we were told he has cardiomyopathy class 4.

He had swollen ankles from day 1 and progressively got worse but because of his constant pain, I think that was the doctors' main focus. Could this accident have caused the congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy??? He recently had an ICD implant and possibly will need a heart transplant. He is so weak and cannot stay up for more than 30 - 45 minutes at a time. Your advice will be appreciated and Thank You

Expert Answers

Carolyn Strimike, N.P. and Margie Latrella, N.P. are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. They have over 40 years of nursing experience in Cardiology between them. The main goal of their work is to counsel, motivate and empower women to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

Sorry to hear about your husband's accident. It is possible but unlikely that your husband's cardiomyopathy was caused by a car accident. Acute congestive heart failure can occur after chest trauma due to a "stunned" heart muscle but generally isn't a chronic condition. Perhaps he had other underlying unrecognized risk factors for heart disease? We would recommend that your husband follow-up with a heart failure specialist.

Community Answers

Kidteachmunsell answered...

I too have congestive heart failure and was diagnosed due to severe shortness of breath from even minimal walking. I also have cardiomyapathy stage 4. I have a 3 lead wire pacemaker(my second one, as they usually last only 6-7 yrs.) and am on coumadin to control atrial fib. I also take vasotec and lasix and a calcioum channel blocker. I have had this condition for over 14 years and have only been hopitalized as outpatient for the pacemaker surgeries and once to be diuresed for the swelling. I sleep on an adjustable bed to elevate my head for breathing and feet due to extreme swelling or edema.I just retired this year after 35 years as an educator and am relieved I do not have to climb 3 sets of stairs every day with the kindergarteners. Ha! I have a good quality of life but do get short winded after minimal exertion.

Waiting for god answered...

My mom is currently on Hospice from CHF,she is at the end stages now,Several years ago my mom experienced a fall of about five feet,after this incident she spiraled down hill and has never been the same.I have heard this type of thing before.