The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

August 20, 2013

Congestive heart failure affects body's fluid volume

DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. He returned home, grew weaker, and after three days was diagnosed with severe dehydration and passed away the following day. How can that happen so quickly? Can medication be a factor? Please explain how the body organs are affected by severe dehydration. — M.M.

ANSWER: Congestive heart failure isn’t a single disease: It’s a syndrome that can be caused by many conditions. The hallmark of CHF is the inability of the heart to pump as much blood as the body needs. As the condition worsens, the pressure of the blood before it reaches the heart goes up. (We call this “filling pressure,” and it is not the blood pressure measured in the arm.) This causes pulmonary edema (fluid inside the lungs) when considering the left side of the heart, and causes swelling in the legs when considering the right side of the heart. Many people have both left-sided and right-sided symptoms. Both fatigue and shortness of breath are common symptoms.

One treatment for heart failure is medication to remove excess salt and water through the kidneys. Sometimes the dose of the diuretic in the hospital to remove the excess is more than is needed at home to keep the balance where it is, and the body gets below the normal level. (We call this volume depletion, not dehydration, since both salt and water are deficient.) A normal heart can adapt to lower-than-normal fluid volume levels; a heart with CHF often can’t. When the heart is unable to provide the blood to the kidneys, liver, brain and the heart itself, the result is catastrophic organ failure.

I can’t be sure what happened to your husband. People with CHF also are highly prone to arrhythmias, abnormal heart rhythms. It is possible that your husband had a sudden heart rhythm that caused him to pass away. What we can learn from what happened to your husband is how important it is to have a checkup soon after being discharged from the hospital for conditions like severe CHF, which require careful monitoring.

Text Only
Food & Health
  • USDA orders farms to report pig virus infections MILWAUKEE -- Farms stricken with a deadly pig virus must report outbreaks as part of a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of the disease, the federal government announced Friday. Porcine epidemic diarrhea has killed millions

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Study: Diabetic heart attacks and strokes falling

    In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.

    Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-15-14 Asparagus photo Make asparagus the center of your plate Asparagus has been a delicious symbol of spring since at least as far back as the Greeks, who called it asparagos -- literally, "to spring up." But however it is spelled, it makes me happy. Most grocers sell asparagus in a range of sizes, from thin a

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Floating stools not alarming DEAR DR. ROACH: I have read that whether stools float or sink could be an indication of one's health, even to the point of being an early sign of pancreatic cancer. Isn't it just about density and gas -- that is, doesn't most food we eat float in wat

    April 15, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.