PT eDigest

HeartTake Heart: Exercising with Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) forces patients to make significant life changes. And because the heart is a muscle and exercise is a vital part of heart health, it seems natural that physical therapy would be a great asset for these patients. But whether and how much physical therapy can help CHF patients depends on a great many variables. In some cases, we can be the best ally a patient can have. In others, the best treatment might be pharmaceutical or surgical. Of course, you cannot know which treatment option is best without speaking with your health care providers.

When can physical therapy help with CHF? Strange as it may sound, the most useful thing we can help you with is telling you when NOT to exercise. Many patients with CHF suffer from exercise intolerance. Because of the heart’s weakness, excessive strain can be dangerous.

On the other hand, physical therapy can help you live with CHF.

  • We can help you build an exercise program that slowly and steadily strengthens your heart.
  • If parts of your daily routines need to be changed, we can help you reorganize your life to minimize the risk to your heart.

Yet for patients with particularly severe CHF, strain can be the biggest threat to their health. Physical activity may not be recommended for patients who have severe CHF and lack the physical capacity to undertake it.

If you suffer from mild or moderate CHF, we can be your ally. As a key to your therapy, we can help keep you out of the hospital. Make sure you keep us up-to-date on your health status. That way, we can adjust your individualized exercise program to maximize the benefits when it needs to be changed. Together with your physician, we can work as a team to keep you in the best health.

Download the PTedigest for July 2014