Predictors of Hospitalization in Congestive Heart Failure Patients

Did you know heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization in seniors over age 65?

Heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans annually. 80% of cases occur in older adults. Each year congestive heart failure (CHF) is associated with 1 million hospitalizations, of which the majority are “re-admissions” or re-hospitalizations. Because of the high cost of hospitalizations in the United States, CHF is in part responsible for driving healthcare expenditures through the roof. Close to $35 billion dollars is spent on heart failure each year.

What is congestive heart failure?

Despite what the name suggests, congestive heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working, rather it indicates that the heart is not pumping blood efficiently. The weakened heart pumps less blood to the body resulting in an oxygen shortage to organs and increased pressure within the heart chambers. Consequently, fluid builds up in the lungs, legs, abdomen, arms, ankles, and feet. The accumulation of fluids after the onset of heart failure is called congestive heart failure.

What symptoms of Heart Failure predict hospitalization?

Although sudden onset of heart failure symptoms may occur in some cases, gradual onset that grows in severity over time is more common. CHF symptoms that may lead to hospitalization include:

  • Shortness of breath caused by fluid in the lungs following exercise, climbing stairs, or after eating. In advanced cases shortness of breath occurs even at rest.
  • Severe fatigue, weakness, or dizziness due to a shortage of oxygen to muscles and vital organs including the brain.
  • Edema (swelling) or the ankles, feet, and abdomen triggered by poor blood flow to kidneys
  • Sudden or explained weight gain indicates fluid retention
  • Bloating that may cause loss of appetite or nausea
  • Frequent nighttime urination occurs because the kidneys are receiving an inadequate amount of blood.
  • Dry, hacking cough as a result of congested lungs.
  • Rapid or Irregular heartbeat because the weakened heart is struggling to keep up

If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of the symptoms on the list below, make an appointment to see a physician immediately.

Congestive heart failure is a progressive, complex disease that is affected by a variety of medical and lifestyle factors. Documenting your symptoms can help prevent future hospitalizations and assist in managing your condition. Consider using a digital care tracking program to log your daily personal care, eating habits, sleeping patterns, medication use, and recreational activities. This real-time, electronic personal health record could be extremely helpful to you, your physician, and everyone involved on your care team.

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