Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Congestive Heart Failure


Story at-a-glance -

  • Congestive heart failure is a serious long-term disease that can worsen over time if left untreated, and can severely limit the activities that a patient can do
  • A healthy diet loaded with as many fresh foods as possible is a good way to help counteract some symptoms of this disease
  • Supplements such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), magnesium, potassium and zinc may help patients with this condition

Q: How do you get congestive heart failure?

A: The causes of congestive heart failure are often idiopathic or unknown. It is a syndrome, or combination of symptoms, caused by numerous chronic conditions including heart disease, that directly affect the cardiovascular system. Having a weak heart can be linked to underlying heart or blood vessel problems, or health and pathiophysiology problems such as:1,2

Coronary artery disease

Ischemic cardiomyopathy

Congenital heart disease

Infections (usually from viruses)

Certain genetic diseases involving the heart

Prolonged and serious arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat3)

Toxic exposures, such as from alcohol or cocaine

Disorders (although less common) that involve the heart being infiltrated by a disease process

Other conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and allergic reactions

Abnormal rhythms or irregular heartbeats


Valve conditions

Damaged heart muscle due to blockage

Meanwhile, these lifestyle habits can compromise a person’s health and lead to congestive heart failure too:4

Unhealthy habits like smoking and alcohol consumption

Obesity and lack of exercise

High salt intake

Noncompliance with medicines and other therapies

Q: Is congestive heart failure hereditary?

A: Not much is known about the link between congestive heart failure and genetics, but a study published in the journal Science Advances in 2016 may shed light on this topic. Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston revealed that a mutated gene called SLCO1B1 was associated with high levels of blood fatty acid, a strong predictor for the development of heart failure. The mutated gene itself was shown to have a direct effect on heart failure risk.5

Q: Can stress bring on congestive heart failure?

A: Not really, but it can worsen existing congestive heart failure. Being upset or anxious can cause the heart to beat faster, breathing to become laborious and blood pressure levels to rise. With the heart already having trouble meeting the body’s demands, increased stress can strain the heart further.6

Q: How do you check for congestive heart failure?

A: A cardiologist can help diagnose congestive heart failure. A physical exam is the first step in diagnosing the disease. The cardiologist listens to your heart using a stethoscope and checks for abnormal heart rhythms. Afterward, diagnostic tests may be recommended to examine the heart’s valves, blood vessels and chambers:7

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Stress tests

Blood tests

Cardiac catheterization

Q: How serious is congestive heart failure?

A: Severity of congestive heart failure can be categorized either according to the symptoms present or the progression of the disease. Two systems conceptualized by the New York Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association are often utilized by doctors:8,9,10

New York Heart Association Classification

Class 1 (Patient doesn’t experience symptoms)

Class 2 (Patient is comfortable at rest, but symptoms develop after normal physical activity)

Class 3 (Patient is comfortable at rest, but there is evident limitation to physical activity)

Class 4 (Patient cannot perform physical activity without experiencing symptoms, some of which even manifest at rest)

American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association

Stage 1 — High risk for developing heart failure (Patient hasn’t shown symptoms of congestive heart failure yet but has one or more several risk factors for the disease)

Stage 2 — Asymptomatic heart failure (Patient has enlarged or dysfunctional left ventricle but has not developed symptoms yet)

Stage 3 — Symptomatic heart failure (Patient experiences common congestive heart failure symptoms)

Stage 4 — Refractory end stage heart failure (Patient experiences symptoms at rest, despite having been treated for congestive heart failure)

Q: Is congestive heart failure fatal?

A: Yes, congestive heart failure can be fatal. This is a serious long-term condition that can worsen over time if left untreated, and can severely limit the activities that a patient can do.11

Q: Is congestive heart failure reversible?

A: While congestive heart failure can worsen over time, some cases can be reversed.12 A healthy diet loaded with as many fresh foods as possible is a good way to help counteract some symptoms of this condition. These are the most important components of a healthy diet for congestive heart failure patients:

Unrestricted quantities of fresh, organic and low-net carb vegetables and fruits

Moderate portions of high-quality protein from organically raised, grass fed or pastured animals

High amounts of healthy fats

On the other hand, lifestyle changes that can help congestive heart failure patients counteract the disease include:13,14,15

Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke

Practicing proper sleeping habits

Getting sufficient exercise (a combination of high-intensity interval training, strength training, stretching and core work)

Reducing stress levels by practicing the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi or massage therapy, to name a few

Q: How is congestive heart failure treated?

A: Supplements such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), magnesium, potassium and zinc can help patients with this condition.16 Medicines such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta-blockers and diuretics may be considered a last resort due to potential side effects and complications. Lastly, these surgical procedures may be recommended if medicines aren’t effective:17,18

Coronary bypass surgery

Heart valve repair or replacement

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs)

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) or biventricular pacing

Heart pumps

Heart transplant


Q: How long can a person live with congestive heart failure?

A: A 2013 Circulation Research article highlights that around 50 percent of individuals with congestive heart failure may survive for around five years after their initial diagnosis, while 10 percent may live longer by 10 years. Factors such as severity of congestive heart failure, age and overall health can determine how long you can live if you have congestive heart failure.20,21,22


Congestive Heart Failure: Introduction

What Is Congestive Heart Failure?

Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms

Congestive Heart Failure Causes

Congestive Heart Failure Stages

Congestive Heart Failure Life Expectancy

Congestive Heart Failure Treatment

Congestive Heart Failure Prevention

Congestive Heart Failure Diet

Congestive Heart Failure FAQ

< Previous

Congestive Heart Failure Diet

Diseases A-Z >

Back to Diseases Index

+ Sources and References
Post your comment
Click Here and be the first to comment on this article