Health

How I Have Been Handling My CHF

I  was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in mid September of 2018. Since then I have had a series of additional stents bringing me up to a total of 9 at this time.

One of the major indicators of this disease is the Ejection Fraction or EF for short. The EF is given as the percentage of blood the heart sends out of the left ventricle  during each beat. In most “normal” people the EF is between 55 to 75%, not being normal, mine when first measured was below 25%.

I made the normal attempt to increase the heart’s output via attending Cardio Therapy Classes. A few short weeks of this showed me the error of my ways as my EF went down to below 15%.  I found it almost impossible to push a grocery cart if it had a gallon of milk as the only item in it.  This was among the darkest period in my life. 

With depression trying its best to set in, I started to look for some solution. I tried to remain as active as possible, even if it meant I would need to rest for an hour after as little as 10 minutes of playing with my dog. My cardiologist did her best to find a combination of medications that I could tolerate and would permit me to walk for as long as I could, as long as I was not encumbered with a heavy camera or grocery bags. 

I gradually managed to get my walking distance up to about a mile, but it sometimes took almost an hour to cover that distance. I looked at the walk as a meditation as during the walk, all that I thought of was putting one foot in front of the other. About 9 weeks ago I was offered a chance to try a treatment that had been shown to benefit the fraction of people that try to be active with CHF, Enhanced External CounterPulsation, or EECP.

EECP is a treatment that finds one lying down on a bed with pressure cuffs placed upon their legs and some leads placed on their shoulders and collar bones. The leads detect the heart beats and the cuffs inflate on the interval between heart beats and deflate as the heat beats. This forces a large amount of blood to surround the heart that encourages new blood vessels to grow so as to handle this supply. With the assumption that I had very little to lose, I signed up to get the treatment.

I had one simple goal when the treatment started, I wanted to be able to walk my 6 lb. Yorkie without coughing every 20 yards. I was shocked when that goal was met in less than a week. I set a second goal, being able to walk at his rate. By the third week, this too was met. I also noticed that I could take longer walks without being tired out. 

I suspect that because I was tested everyday, I noticed and did all I could to enhance the results. During treatments, I took time to see others also improve, some by walking a bit faster, others by not needing as much Oxygen assistance after their treatments.  In all cases, the improvements seemed to come fastest to those that walked a lot. 

My course of treatments ended November 1, 2019. I am now able to walk as long as I want, and carry a modest amount of weight. I can now push a loaded grocery cart and carry those groceries into the house. EECP seems to have given me a life I thought had eluded me. As this period of Thanksgiving is upon us, I am extremely thankful for the people at Legacy Heartcare of Phoenix, They have given me more than I thought possible!