My CHF makes sleeping difficult. What can I do?

15 answers | Last updated: Oct 11, 2016
Chardonnay15 asked...

I have Congestive Heart Failure and less than half of my heart working. Sometimes my shortness of breath gets bad at night. What can I do to make it stop if I have already taken my medications and rested?


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.

We are sorry to hear about your difficulty getting good sleep and rest with your congestive heart failure (CHF). Many people with CHF have trouble lying flat and seem to have the most trouble breathing while lying in bed. In many cases, we find people propping themselves up with pillows or sleeping in recliners to help alleviate the difficulty breathing.

You should really let your cardiologist or healthcare provider know that you are having trouble with your breathing at night. This may be an indicator that it is time to make some adjustments to your CHF medications. It is more effective to treat the cause of the symptoms, which is the CHF, than try to temporarily alleviate the symptoms by propping yourself up at night.

We hope you will be getting some good sleep soon!


Community Answers

Dollvintage answered...

Ask your cadiologist if a CPAP machine would help your night time breathing issues...


Joebob answered...

Take the herb Arjuna. It helps strengthen the heart muscle and increases the ejection fraction (blood pumped out of the heart) I have CHF and have been using this for 8+ months. I had an echocardiogram when I started and one every 4 months. EF increased 5% each time and my enlarged heart has shrunk by 1.5 points, so far. I use Himalaya brand Arjuna from HimalayaUSA.com and I take 4 tablets per day. There are studies showing effectiveness.

As for sleeping and shortness of breath, I take 80mg of my diuretic, fursomide, in the early evening, it makes breathing easier.


A fellow caregiver answered...

I have suffered Congestive heart failure and COPD and have diabetes type2. Recently I developed extreme back pains because of kidney stones. My doctors also discovered that I have a Gr.2 enlarged prostate.. After hearing from some of my friends the value of INCLINED BED THERAPY,I tried it and I was totally relieved of back pains, my blood sugar and prostate became normal, and have total restful nights of quality sleep free from any breathing difficulty. I find this technique discovered in 2006 so amazing and I want to share this blessing with everyone.


Mustangsally91 answered...

My husband was diagnosed with CHF September of '09. The year before he almost died twice from a bowel rupture and later that same year, he was involved in a major car accident. His whole life was changed in a matter of seconds due to the neglience of one man. Needless to say, we were doing as well as we could til that next year when my husband began to have shortness of breath....it just happened overnight. His primary care doctor never once considered his problem to be heart related but I had my suspicions and after seeing this doctor 3 times in one week, I decided to make an appointment with a cardiologist.Before my husband was able to see this doctor, he ended up in our ER. It was then that we got the diagnosis. We were both shocked and I felt that someone had hit me over the head with a brick! Well, after getting hold of my emotions, I got onto the internet and began doing research. I can only thank the good Lord above for leading me to Dr. Bruce West's website the rest is history. I began giving the supplements that Dr. West suggested and from my husband's EF of 15%, he is now somewhere between 35 and 40%. We couldn't be happier. My husband does take 3 prescription meds but I truly feel that the supplements have helped the most. Now he goes to bed, never has problems with shortness of breath unless he gets upset or over does something. He goes for an Echo in February and we'll see how much more improvement he's got. Don't underestimate supplements, the heart is a muscle and needs proper nutritients to make it strong. God bless all who are dealing with this condition but there is hope.


Cbs answered...

Beware: Dr. Bruce West is listed on Quackwatch.com link: http://www.quackwatch.com/04ConsumerEducation/Nonrecorg/narb.html He is a chiropractor NOT a doctor of medicine.


Joebob answered...

Go get em Mustang Sally. I have used Dr. West's advice and he is solid. Quack Watch is Out to Lunch ! I posted earlier in this chain and I am now writing an e-book about what I have done to recover from CHF. In my research I found this quote, which pretty much sums up the issue. "The January 2001 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine came out and admitted that only nutritional programs can reverse heart disease and reverse damage done to the heart."


Iluvpbr answered...

My mom has been diagnosed with chf. She is on oxygen 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The doctor is having her do a sleep study, he thinks she has sleep apnea. She has problems going to sleep and staying asleep. So she may be put on a cpap machine.


Mustangsally91 answered...

It is never a bad idea to have a sleep study done to rule out sleep apnea for having it can cause many problems. If this is not the issue with your mom then I definitely would go to Dr. West's website and start your mom on his protocol. The supplements he recommends have been around since 1920 and come from a very reliable source. In the mean time get your mom some COQ-10 and give her 600 mg. daily in divided doses. This is one thing I have been giving my husband, it strengthens the heart muscle. I also give my husband d-ribose for it is given to people who have suffered heart attacks and again strengthens the heart muscle. I get the 750 mg. capsules and he gets 2 capsules with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Has your mom been given a water pill? Fluid builds in the lungs when the heart is weak so this is very much needed. Lasix was the first water pill my husband was given and it helped greatly and he was able to lie down to sleep. He now takes spironolactone once a day due to his cardiologist concerned about my husband's kidneys; as Lasix is hard on them. So far, so good :) Just earlier this week, he was feeling his heart skipping beats and feeling strange, no chest pains just an uncomfortable feeling in his chest. I called his cardiologist but they were out of the office so got the answering service. Within 5 minutes of making that call, the doctor who was on call, called us back. He felt that my husband's heart is getting stronger and to cut back on his Coreg, which we did. So far so good again. My husband goes in in February for an Echo. We are hopeful that we will see more improvement. Do your research for your mom for there is a lot of very good information on the internet....I've learned so much in the 2 years that my husband has had his heart condition. Knowledge is power, it truly is, go for it! My thoughts are with you and your mom and I'd love to hear how she makes out with her test etc.


Caring community answered...

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Runs4sons answered...

My father has subscribed to Dr West newsletter for years. When my mom came down with Pulmonary Hypertension and Congestive Heart Failure he begged my mom to take his suppliments. So I did a little research. I love my mom very much, and would do anything to help. In a nutshell I found out that he is a wonderful SALESMAN, he first sells himself then his products. He is not a licensed physican and the products he sells are marketed to Chiropracters specifically. Please read this claim from his own newsletter, he states that he writes every word personally. Look at this...."Dr. West is considered the world's leading expert on the clinical use of therapeutic foods, plant and animal extracts, glandular extracts, and phytonutrients. He has helped and cured more patients than any other physician or doctor of any kind, living or dead." Oh my gosh, that is crazy. Now I have to explain to my dad that products that Dr. West 'invented and pioneered as a biochemist' are products he can purchase through thousands of other Chiropractor. That Bruce West attends seminars on how to market these products and didn't pioneer any of it. My father will be heartbroken. We will be adding phytonutrients to my moms diet with food. Very disturbing. Please beware..... he is not what he says he is, even if some of the products are what they claim to be.


Ohheckyeah answered...

My dad was convinced the supplements prescribed by Bruce West were helping his heart...right up until he had a heart attack a week ago. He had a cardiac cath and the doctor said his heart is a mess.

If curing CHD was as east as taking some supplements, Bruce West would be a rich man and known world wide.


A fellow caregiver answered...

I too was diagnosed with CHF and irregular hearbeat - my friends made me realized the drug i was on was actually going to permanently damage and then kill me (not fun) - i got off ALL the drugs... - dr al sears book - doctors heart cure - andrew fletchers' inclined bed therapy (incline head of your bed six inches - you will always have a good night's sleep - and easy breathing - it's like magic - pat timpone's oneradio show - check out organic sulphur - there are 3 podcasts on there to listen to - he's got the pure unadulterated stuff - it takes out heavy metals and garbage out and brings oxygen into the cells...; xo :)


A fellow caregiver answered...

I'm very surprised that medical advice is allowed here from non-medical people. Much of it seems more like "spam." Perhaps the admin should screen such additions more carefully. Some of this information can cause more harm than good. I've always researched the questions and answers here as our parents have all passed but one now and she has CHF. She is also on coumadin, so am I. We cannot take any supplements of any kind, especially herbal. I am not looking for those types of answers. I don't think this is the appropriate forum for medical advice from non-medical people. I don't think it has anything to do with personal opinion.. Even a Doctor would advise that you to speak to your personal physician before trying any new treatments or supplements. Disappointed and not so keen on seeking any answers here in the future.


Majcc5 answered...

I was diagnosed with afib and CHF this year and was advised to get a sleep study done.It showed that I have obstructive sleep apnea so I went on the CPAP in August.I can only say that it has helped a lot with my breathing problem.I would recommend that anyone who thinks he/she might have a sleep problem see a sleep specialist.