Worrying for a friend -- congestive heart failure

I’ve posted about my friend who just had a baby by C-section. Today I got an e-mail from her saying that she and the baby are home after a week in the hospital and “doing well.” In the same message she says “Oh, by the way, in case you didn’t know, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure 4 days after the baby was born.” :eek:

She spent 3 days in ICU and lost 20 pounds of fluid while there, which she says helped a lot. If she’s home, she must be in a lot better shape. She says she has lots of doctor’s appointments ahead: OB-GYN, heart, kidney . . . I know that pregnancy can carry a lot of complications, especially with a C-section, but boy, that CHF thing is scary. She’s 38 and has been quite overweight most of the time I’ve known her.

I’ve poked around on the Web looking for information. It seems to be unrelated to the pregnancy. Some sites (American Heart Association) are reassuring, saying that although there is no cure, people with CHF can be treated and go on to live fairly healthy, productive, active lives. Others (US government statistics site) make it sound like my friend has one foot in the grave, with scary statements like “Half of patients diagnosed with CHF will be dead within 5 years,” “One in five patients die within one year,” and “heart transplant.”

God, I’m hoping that all those scary things are referring to 75-year-olds who’ve been smoking for sixty years and have 17 other diseases as well, and not to under-40 women who just had a baby and (hopefully) have only a mild case that can be treated. Hoping that I’m overreacting as usual.

Hoping. :frowning:

My mother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure when I was 11, so she was in her mid-forties then I think (this was a little over nine years ago). She spent some time in the hospital and had to take some extra pills for the rest of her life, and she was on a strict low-sodium no-caffeine diet, but she still managed to open and run her own pottery shop in the front room of our house for several years, after she closed that she made some good money selling her paintings on eBay for a while, and then at 50 she got her driver’s license (which she hadn’t until then) and then worked two part-time jobs, as a supervisor at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and as a floral designer in a flower and gift shop.

So yes, it is possible to live a happy, active, productive, and relatively healthy life with CHF, as far as I’ve seen, just from my personal experience with my mom. You do have to be careful with any sort of major stress on the body, though - a little over two years ago my mother had breast cancer, and although the lump was removed, she couldn’t take the medication to keep it from coming back because it would interfere with her heart medication, and she couldn’t have radiation therapy because she’d had that with her first cancer (she had Hodgkin’s Disease when I was a child, several years before the CHF), so she opted for a mastectomy, and her heart couldn’t handle the operation and she died on the operating table. So I think there might be a risk if your friend had any sort of major operation or something in the future.

I am not a doctor and I really don’t know much at all, but this is just what happened with my mom. I don’t know if that helps much.

Thanks for your reply, AntaresJB. That does help. I’m planning to call my friend this weekend and see how she’s doing, maybe get a little more info.