Congestive heart failure is a chronic disease, which means it is usually not curable and will lead to the end stage congestive heart failure. If you are living with congestive heart failure, you may be apprehensive about what to expect when nearing the end stages of the disease.
With congestive heart failure, the heart muscle becomes damaged and loses the ability to pump blood as well as it should. This affects not only the heart, but also the lungs and kidneys. People with obesity, diabetes and kidney disease are more likely to develop congestive heart failure, though it can also be caused by a heart attack or high blood pressure.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure get increasingly worse as the disease progresses. These can include shortness of breath, fatigue, lightheadedness, numbness of limbs, heart palpitations and memory loss. Patients with end stage congestive heart failure also tend to experience nausea and loss of appetite, weight gain, edema, cough and frequent urination.
Because congestive heart failure makes it difficult to breathe, you may consider using a ventilator at the end stage of the disease. A ventilator prolongs life by pushing air and oxygen into the lungs, but may be uncomfortable and limit ability to communicate. Patients with end stage congestive heart failure also often develop complications such as pneumonia. Many patients with congestive heart failure eventually pass away from sudden heart failure, but others die more slowly when their lungs fill with fluid.
Though there is no cure for congestive heart failure, you can prolong your life by practicing healthy habits. Take your medication as prescribed, follow the diet your doctor recommends, avoid drinking alcohol and make sure you are treated for any additional medical conditions.