My father-in-law has congestive heart failure. He had a heart attack about ten or more years ago at age 47. How long do most people live with congestive heart failure?
While the overall statistics are not encouraging, long-term survival and quality of life after diagnosis vary greatly with the individual circumstances.
The statistics show that only 20 to 30 percent of congestive heart failure (CHF) patients live longer than 10 to 12 years after diagnosis. But many of those who die are much older and possibly much sicker than your father-in-law when they are diagnosed. Depending on the severity and the cause of the CHF, your father-in-law may have many full years ahead of him, especially if he works closely with his doctors to treat the underlying cause and make lifestyle changes that may improve his health and prospects for survival.
In CHF, the heart becomes weakened and fails to pump blood effectively throughout the body. As a result, the other parts of the body do not receive an adequate supply of blood. That is what heart failure means. It becomes “congestive” heart failure when the blood flow backs up around the heart, causing fluids to pool up in the lungs and elsewhere.
Quite a few diseases and conditions can lead to CHF. A previous heart attack increases the chances of developing CHF. Coronary artery disease and all its risk factors (such as smoking, high cholesterol levels and obesity) are common causes of CHF. Other causative risk factors include congenital heart defects and certain other kinds of heart problems, alcoholism, high blood pressure and diabetes.
There is no cure for CHF. Treatment usually involves making the appropriate lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight or quitting drinking. Exercise is often helpful, but the exercise program must be carefully planned with a doctor’s supervision. Most people with CHF also take one or more medications to improve the pumping and flow of blood, reduce fluid buildup and treat other symptoms.