How long do people live with congestive heart failure?

24 answers | Last updated: Aug 22, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

How long do people live with congestive heart failure?


Expert Answers

People with mild to moderate congestive heart failure (CHF) could potentially live many years; it needn't be a death sentence. Congestive heart FAILURE is really a misnomer -- think of it as congestive heart inefficiency!

With mild to moderate CHF, the heart is not as powerful as it once was. As less blood is pumped out of the heart with each beat, the blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up. This back-up causes fluid congestion in the tissues. When that congestion occurs in the lungs, the person experiences shortness of breath. People with mild or moderate congestive heart failure who are well controlled with cardiac medications can live relatively active lives. Medications, which increase the pumping power of the heart muscles, give such folks some relief from the associated fatigue, difficulty breathing, and swelling in the extremities. People with CHF should be under the care of a doctor and should be consistent with their medications.

The heart reaches the "failure" point with a diagnosis of severe CHF, when medications and treatments are unable to help compensate for poor function in the heart. Such patients are typically hospitalized and have a poor prognosis.


Community Answers

Gloves answered...
On June 18, 2007 I was told that I am in Stage one of CHF. Ihad an Pacemaker/IDC implanted on June18, 2007. After a year I feel much better in most ways. Iam now 81 years old. Jack Barbour

Revmartin answered...

My father is 75, he has chf and a leaking heart valvve with copd, the drs wanted to put a pacemaker in him but he got to ill to do it now he wont get one in, hes too weak, hes not on any heart meds at all the only thing he is on is a stomach pill for upset stomach. is he at risk of dying sooner then the time he was given> what about blood clots> he cant walk he barely gts out of bed and when he does its of course with the nurses helping him, he refuses his physical tp. his drs gave him 2 to 3 months to live hes now rallying and doing better, but do u think the drs are right about the time limit? the other dr said 6 months to a yr maybe.


E byrd answered...

more like a question how can I stop extra water for going down my ankles? I have go to DMC almost every night and its taking a toll ome and my kids their grown but what can I do stop retaining water, I do have conjestive heart failure, please help me. thank you Evone Byrd


Crudelia answered...

e byrd :

Restrict your fluids and salt intake.Have a low salt diet 2000 milIgrams of salt per day and watch how much you drink see a doctor most important of all, they may need to start you on a diuretic (water pill)to help you eliminate the extra fluid from your body. When your ankles swell up put your legs up in a chair or anywhere just keep them up above your heart this will help the fluid to go back to the heart and get distributed more evenly. I hope you feel better soon. And SEE A DOCTOR VERY SOON!! IT CAN BE VERY VERY DANGEROUS TOO HAVE A LOT OF EXTRA FLUID because it's not only on your ankles it's everywhere in your body including your lungs this can lead to pulmonary hypertension etc. My mother has CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE/pulmonary hypertension so i'm very familiar with all of this.

All the best Crudelia


Helen4991 answered...

I have had congestive heart failure for 9 months now and I can't stand longer than 10 minutes before I am so weak I can't stand anymore. I now use a walker and I hope to get a battery operated wheelchair. My doctor won't give me a pacemaker but I am on dilitiazem, multaq, fouresimide, ramipril, and bystolic for blood pressure. I want to swim but I am just too weak to make it to the pool. Can anyone offer any suggestions for me?


A fellow caregiver answered...

Toronto Globe and Mail cites New England Journal of Medicine (ca.March 21 2003) report of the results of a small study (24 subjects) on sleep apnea at Toronto General Hospital which showed the startling effect of CPAP device use: each of the 12 congestive-heart-failure patients in the trial who used the CPAP device experienced a reversal of congestive heart failure. "The study had to be discontinued because given the results it was considered unethical to deny the treatment to the 12 patients without the CPAP device...This treatment should work for everyone who has a combination of sleep apnea and congestive heart failure." One-third of 500,000 Canadians who have CHF also have sleep apnea ("6 x the number who have sleep apnea in the general population"). Worth checking out.


Joebob answered...

I have had CHF since 2005 and that has created an enlarged heart. I started using Arjuna, an herb from India (Terminalia arjuna), and my heart is shrinking and my ejection fraction is steadily increasing. I also take CoQ10,Magnesium, vitamin B complex, Fish oil, vitamin E, Blue Green Algae, and other supplements. I had an echocardiogram, then I added the Arjuna, and had an echocardiogram after 4 months, my heart had shrunk a full point and the EF had increased 5%. The next echo, 4 months later, showed further shrinkage and another 5% EF increase. In 8 months I've reduced the size of my heart by 1.5 points and increased the EF by 10%. I take 4 Arjuna caplets a day. My cardiologists are both impressed by my improvement. I use Himalaya brand Arjuna. This is the only nutrient that has made a continuing difference for me.


Carolw answered...

Joe Bob! Thanks for the info. Do you have a website or other form of communicating?


Cottonbud answered...

Hello JoeBob. I am particularly interested in both the dietary and supplemental approach to managing Congestive Heart Failure since my husband was diagnosed with severe CHF some 3 years ago. His EF at that time was just15 to20% In his case he decided within a matter of a few months not to take the prescription drugs and instead to supplement with Ubiquinol (CQ10), Magnesium Citrate , Hawthorn Berry extract and Arjuna amongst others. He also reduced his carbohydrate intake and veered toward a more paleolithic way of eating. Having said that the diet has seen many changes over that period and at the moment Dairy in the form of unpasteurised cheese vies with meat both fatty and lean to provide the majority of the protein. Eggs are also very much on the menu with as many as two dozen being consumed each and every week. Oily fish was also one of his favourite dailies but for the past month has metaphorically been placed on the back burner. No vegetable or seed oils are used and no grains are eaten. If he feels the need he will throw a slice of butter over his side plate of steamed vegetables. Obviously this approach is not one that he would ever recommend to others and I can well imagine the magnitude of disapproval that such a seemingly reckless approach would engender within the medical profession. However the results speak for themselves and from barely being able to walk twenty metres he now enjoys daily walks of several miles. As for the Arjuna he recently stopped taking those in favour of supplemental Taurine. Time will tell if that was a wise move.


Pablo krooze answered...

this is a follow up to the response about " give Jo Bob an atta boy"...i unfortunately hit the wrong button and my response vanished...hopefully it can be mated with this wrap up...As i was relating...i discovered Arjuna and Ashwaganda in a book titled " Prescriptions for Herbal Healing " by Phillis A.Balch CNC and in Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing" by she and James F Balch, MD...i discovered L-Arginine and L-lysine...My wonderful Sister Turned me on to CO-Q10 after the procedure in May 09.

YOU NEED TO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH TO TOTALLY SUPPORT YOUR DECESION NO MATTER WHAT OTHERS MAY TELL YOU...SUPPORTIVE OR NOT !

AND THE INTERNET IS AWESOME WITH INFORMATION ...thats how i discovered this site tonite asking about Arjuna...and now sharing my almost 3 yr x-periance...

in Oct of 2010 my bp was dropping to 95's 100 etc so i cut the Carvedilol in half to 6.25 mgs and the BP was in the 115's ...then in Dec it dropped bk to the 90's & low 100's and i cut that in half to 3.125 mgs and the BP was about 115 again until March 2011 . Same thing...BP mid 90's low 100's ...i then terminated the Carvedilol and my BP has been anywhere between 105 and 115 since..

. i still was on the Coumadin & Digoxin and was looking to reduce or eliminate what ever i could...more research on blood thinners and clot elimination led me to Nattokinase..or "Natto" as it's called..

After a few months of deliberation i decided i had confidence in making the decesion to ween off the Coumadin and introduce the Natto in August of 2011...remember we're all different...and clotting capabilities vary ...some Dr's have a patient on both ...which i find interesting ...when i made the decesion to go with the Natto...it stressed to be completely off the Coumadin AND Asprin before introducing the Natto...

as for the Digoxin... it is to help your heart have a regular beat which mine has never had since birth...so i decided to let that go as well several weeks after the coumadin...theres really not much difference in my regular or irrigularities than before...

We're all doing the best we can and it's nice to see alternative success stories...the biggest challange is as mentioned from the lady writing about her husband...getting enough Protein...it's the fuel that makes your ticker tick....whatever 1/2 your body weight is...is the number you target for grams of protein per day...for Regular Maintainance...if you are "Wound Healing"...that number needs to be close to 80% of your body weight ! you'll feel the difference... ..Again...we're all x-periments take your time, carry a note book...write down what you do when you do it as you do it then look at your day on paper and see if you want to continue or change


Shelleyda answered...

The posts here are very interesting. I recently bought Arjuna and NAC but now I'm afraid to use them. I take a beta blocker for CHF and that slows my heart and lowers my blood pressure. This is the same thing that Arjuna is supposed to do so now I'm afraid to take the both of them. I'd love to get off the beta blocker though! I keep thinking that I should try the Arjuna and the NAC and see how it goes and continue with the beta blocker in the meantime. Since I am newly diagnosed with CHF, I have no idea what to do. But I'm in a bad spot becaue I also have severe airway restriction from COPD. I am going to make an appt for Acupuncture too since I've been reading that it can dilate the airways.
I'd really like to have a natural approach to my health but the dietary changes that are necessary are a huge struggle for me. I do take several other supplements..COQ 10, Taurine, L-Carnitine, B1, Vitamin D, E, and C, and also Pine Bark and Creatine.
I'm still not sure what to include in my diet, all I know is that I need to reduce the sodium and the sugar. I really appreciate reading what others are doing! I have a lot to learn yet.


Doomdforev answered...

I had been living with what was thought to be depression. It turned out to be CHF. Coming in with an ejection fraction of 15%. Symptoms were the same the whole time, so I believe it was CHF for the duration of my disability. Meaning I lived with the disease for 21 years before treatment, or correct diagnosis and treatment. Prozac didn't help and wasn't ever going to help.

Having been on the right medication for 3 years, six months ago another test was done and I am up to about 20% e.r. I live on my own and do relatively well, usually. Especially now with the help of medication.

I wouldn't recommend doing what I went through, just... I'm not sure it is always as surely fatal as suggested. Though mine might be different, probably a viral attack on the heart. It's been a rough row to hoe but I think I have another 20 years in me. Ugh.


Statbabe answered...

I was diagnosed with CHF in 2009--I have cardiomyopathy as a result of doxorubicin for breast cancer in 1990. Anyway, a friend told me about CoQ10. I read the literature and started taking 400 mg per day. Four months later when they ran the echocardiogram, my EF had increased from 30% when I was diagnosed to 59%. My cardiologist said that he didn't know what I was doing, but whatever it was, it had really worked wonders and to keep doing it.


Rosheen answered...

Science just discovered PHPS1 inhibitors a chemical compound reduced the heart size and improved the hearts function. You can buy PHPS1 compound from Bio chem lab's online like Santa cruz bio chem company !! This PHPS1 will change the way we deal witj Heart disease !!!!!!! DO IT UR SELF .DONT WAIT


Dexter16 answered...

I have CHF since 1999,so,apprx 15 years,I had my heart bigger twice as suppose to be. I knew it was stress and alcohol,so I get rid of stress and with my medication I live normal live,even drink occasionally,by the way Im only 50 years old and feel like a lot is still coming...


A fellow caregiver answered...

Nuts (walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.) and beans (pinto, black, etc.) are excellent sources of protein.


Corather answered...

I was diagnosed with CHF with an EF of 30% and severe hypertension 3 years ago. Went through some difficult times with the "medicines" prescribed. I searched for alternative remedies and ran across B vitamins in the beginning and within weeks I was feeling better. Since then I have discovered L-Arginine/L-Citrulline (vasodilator), red wine extract (resveratrol), recently discovered NAC (n-acetylcysteine), the all important Vitamin D-3, and thanks to this forum Arjuna.

Current regimen:

400 mg Resveratrol 5000-10000 IU Vitamin D-3 600-1200 mg NAC 500-1000 mg L-Arginine/L-Citrulline 6000 IU vitamin-A And a super B-complex which contains hundreds of percent the daily dose of several B-vitamins, B1-B3, B6, B-12, among other nutrients.

Later today I add Arjuna. :)


Darnit answered...

WOW! Just the type of forum help I was looking for. Copied and pasted it all into my notes. Now to make the list of what to buy from it! Also thought I had bad cold 'congestion'. Drs deny I have any CHF or COPD, but I KNOW I feel differently inside, and that to THEM, 'just a little' abnormality is 'nothing' compared to full blown disease, but I'M NOT ALLOWING it to go further if I can help it!


Windrider answered...

many diseases of heart like high blood pressure, , Sinus bradycardia or slow heart rate condition , Mitral valve regurgitation .. a leakage heart condition , Tricuspid valve regurgitation .. a leakage heart condition mitral valve regurgitation etc. has been cured.


Bioniccyborg answered...

To answer your question, I hope a long time. So to be honest, it is obvious there many states of health, so age,what caused the issue , lifestyle and genetics play factors. It is a scary term to hear. I had an Aortic Dissection in 1993 I have a dacron Aorta (Partial) and artificial heart valve .Multiple (3) ablation surgeries, 2005 Pacemaker ,late 2014 a Biventricular Pacemaker. So I am in the club but want I want to say is you can live. In two days I am going on a 12 mile hike (I can do this because this biventricular pacemaker has helped. I've done this post surgery). I hope someone will benefit from this news. So yes it sucks, and let's face it , it is scary as hell ,but if you can you may find that out you are stronger than you thought!


A fellow caregiver answered...

Diet is more important than the medical establishment will tell you. Diet can enable you to prevent and even reverse heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Inform yourself because many doctors have very little training in nutrition. They are prepared by the medical establishment to prescribe drugs, surgeries, stents, etc.--Which are great ways to make money, but do not address the foundational problem (lifestyle, diet) so that the problems will eventually come back and bite you.

You are not a victim of your genes or random bad luck, as the vast majority of chronic illnesses are brought about by unhealthy lifestyle choices and the "Standard American Diet" (a.k.a. "S.A.D."). This means you have more control than you think, and you can heal yourself. It may seem difficult to change, but millions of people do it and you can, too.

Check out the work of Dr.s Conrad Essylsten, Dr. MacDougall, Dr. Ornish. They have helped thousands of their patients reverse their "death sentences" and come off medications, and to go on to live healthy, happy lives. Check out this clip from the movie "Forks Over Knives," which is available to stream on "Netflix". https://youtu.be/DZb-35oV_7E


A fellow caregiver answered...

Proper diet & exercise can do the wonders. No doubt about it. Repair of organs by diet nutrition and exercise can enhance the efficiency very effectively and can put back your derailed health on right track. But a very well qualified and experienced nutritionist and dietician is required to accomplish the job.But be sure it can be done.


Mattbeck answered...

Just came across this page when searching. Not sure if anyone can help. My mother was just diagnosed with biventricular failure. Both left and right ventricular are enlarged. EJ of 20%. 62 days in the hospital only made it worse. First echo was done 2 months ago and not bad. 2nd echo done yesterday showed serious damage. Prior to hospitalization, she was still very active, so this is a complete shock to the family. Dr said nothing he or anyone else can do to fix it. Pretty much take her home to die. Too weak for heart cath or any surgery they say. Kidney levels have been elevated a few times but melds bring them back to normal. Scoliosis of liver from years ago is her only medical issue prior. We need some serious direction of what to do, if anything. Please help.