Congestive Heart Failure Expert Forum
Can CHF Be Reversed?
About This Forum:

CHF is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. In some cases, the heart can’t fill with enough blood. In other cases, the heart can’t pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force. Some people have both problems. The term "heart failure" doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. Heart failure is a serious condition that requires medical care. This forum is a place to ask questions about CHF. Some examples are: How is CHF diagnosed? What treatment options are available for me?

If you have a question that requires immediate medical attention, or if you think you may have an emergency situation, please call your doctor or 911 IMMEDIATELY!

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Can CHF Be Reversed?

Hi,

My father was diagnosed with CHF about 3 years ago and I've been trying to find out if it is possible to reverse the effects through diet and/or natural remedies.  Are you aware of anything that might be effective?  We just purchased Dr. Dean Ornish's book and I am helping my Dad get started on the diet recommended by Dr. Ornish.

Thanks for taking my question.  I'd really like to keep my Dad around as long as I possibly can.  Hearing any diagnosis that ends with "Failure" is not very hopeful though.


Jack
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Dear Jack,

Welcome to the Forum and thank you for your question.

In short, the answer to your question is “sometimes”.  Depending on the cause of the CHF, in some instances, the disease process can not only be temporized but even reversed.  In other instances, the heart damage is so extensive that completely reversing the disease process becomes unlikely.

However in the vast majority of instances, with the proper medications and medical care, the symptoms of the disease can often be minimized and disease progression slowed for quite a long time if not entirely cured.  In fact, as a heart failure specialist, I pride myself on the ability to treat even advanced cases of heart failure, thus improving both the quality and quantity of life of my patients. However, even with the best of treatments and in the best of hands, some cases of CHF are ultimately fatal.

As far as “natural” remedies go, I am always hesitant to recommend this approach exclusively as there are no natural remedies in existence that have ever been shown to improve outcomes in patients with CHF.  On the other hand, there are many medications and even devices (ie defibrillators) that in the right scenario have been shown to prolong life.  However, do not confuse the terms “heart disease” with “heart failure”.  Heart disease often refers to the presence of high cholesterol and cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels surrounding the heart (i.e. coronary artery disease).  Adherence to a low fat, low cholesterol diet may indeed be beneficial in these instances.  This is not to say that a healthy lifestyle including natural remedies may not benefit your father or any patient with CHF, but rather a combined approach (with proven therapies) is likely best.

Hope this helps.

Dr. Rich
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Jonathan D. Rich, MDBlank
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Chicago, IL
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