My husband was diagnosed with CHF (viral they think) a month ago. He had an echo in the hospital that showed EF of 10%. He is MUCH improved after medication therapy, but they are not repeating the echo to see if there has been any improvement. He is 37 years old and is terrified to do anything because we don't have any evidence one way or another if he's improving.
He has his first appointment with the HF specialist on Monday, but they say they are not going to do a repeat echo then. We haven't gotten a good explanation as to why. So they are telling him to resume all "normal" activities, but not giving us any testing or evidence to go on. We don't know if he's improving, or if his heart is failing and he's going to need a transplant. This is all just so infuriating.
So, does anyone know what a reasonable interval is to do a repeat echo??
My cardiologist does an Echo on me about once a year, and I'm at 15-20% EF.
I don't think one month is long enough to see a substantial improvement, and possibly the doctors are wanting to wait until enough time has passed.
As far as the CHF goes, it's Congestive Heart Failure, and what it means is that your husband's heart isn't able to pump enough blood up and out of his lower extremeties to pull the excess fluid up and out. Viral is most likely the cause, no matter what the doctor says about it.
CHF doesn't mean that his heart is going to just quit. Rather, it means that his heart isn't working properly, but with meds he should do pretty well. Of course he still needs to follow a low sodium, heart friendly diet, and if he smokes, quit, and if he drinks alchohol, quit. Along with the changes and proper medication, he should do alright.
With a EF of 15-20%, I can still do some tasks, like work in my garden(at MY pace), and I can walk most days without being bothered. I do suffer from lack of strength, and I sleep sitting upright a lot of the time,(for breathing), and after a day that over taxes me, it takes about a week to recover, but I do go on living.
What I'm trying to say is this, your husband will most likely be okay doing what he wants to do as long as he listens to his body and doesn't overdo it. However, if it's you that is wanting him to do something and he's not doing it, then you need to realize that he doesn't feel like doing it, not because he's scared, but because he's ill and just doesn't feel good enough to mow the lawn, or weed the garden, or hold down a full time job....CHF takes it's toll on everyone, and most don't feel like pulling up their own pants some days.
I had a similar experience 6 years ago with CHF. Apparently, with your husband's condition there is heart wall impariment due to ischemia (lack of oxygen) to heart cells, and the left ventricle enlarged causing weak contractions and low cardiac output. Blood backs up into the lungs as the weak heart is not able to pump the blood into circulation. Fluids leak into the lungs causing congestion.
Medication (ACE inhibitor and beta blocker) reduces the heart's workload and a few months later my heart size returned to normal and a normal EF59%.
An echo in 6 months, if no symptoms, would be appropriate to evaluate heart size and pumping efficiency. I have not any medical problems with the medication and feel fine. Every 6 months is the schedule for consultation and blood tests (medication can cause kidney problems). I've had 3 echos, stress test (treadmill), CT scan 128 slice, ekg and a chest X-ray.
I resumed normal activities after 4 days in the hospital normalizing oxygen level, etc. Hope this gives you a perspective, and your doctor is not acting without due care. It requires some time to determine if the medication is effectve.
Welcome to the MedHelp forum!
Apart from ECHO there are many ways a doctor can know how a patient is doing. For example if your husband is breathless even at rest, has repeated chest pain, is unable to move around etc, then the doctors will do an ECHO and an EKG immediately. However if he is able to daily increase his activities, then the EF will be improving. Also once the viral infection is treated the EF improves. Usually the ECHO is repeated once in 3 months. However it can be done earlier or later depending on the condition of the patient. At 37 years of age, this can be a real scare to hear you have an EF of 10%. However if extensive treatment like defibrillator etc was not done, then do not worry much. Please discuss with the cardiologist at the appointment.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if there is any thing else and do keep me posted. Take care!
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