Chronic Heart Failure Can Become a Disabling Condition

by Editorial Board on December 23, 2010 · 1 comment

in Heart & Circulation

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a progressive disorder that causes an overall weakening of the cardiovascular system. CHF primarily occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood into the muscles, tissues and other organs of the body.

Reported to be the third-most leading cause of disability in the US, congestive heart failure is basically classified into two types:

i)             Systolic dysfunction: In this form of CHF, the heart loses its ability to pump out blood during the contraction phase.

ii)           Diastolic dysfunction: This form of CHF reduces the heart’s ability to relax and fill with blood during the relaxation phase.

CHF and Disability – Research and Statistics

A recent study reported the current figure of CHF sufferers in the US to be a whopping 5 million, with a huge number of 550,000 individuals developing the disorder every year[1], while CHF is estimated to be causing 300,000 deaths every year in the US alone.

Meanwhile, another study conducted by the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System found the disability rate in CHF patients to be much higher than average, with this category of patients having greater difficulties in daily activities such as grocery shopping and even just walking across a small room.  If CHF is keeping you from being able to work you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.

CHF and Warning Signs

As a medical condition, CHF can severely affect the patient’s ability to perform everyday activities and live an active life, starting from the early signs of the disease itself. Below are some of the key signs that might signal the onset of CHF, along with the related discomfort:

i)             Chest discomfort – Most of the patients experience moderate to extreme discomfort in the centre of the chest, generally lasting for a few minutes.

ii)           Feeling of discomfort in other regions of upper body – Other areas that can become effected include either or both of the arms, neck, back, stomach, or even the jaw.

iii)          Shortness of breath or exhaustion can occur on its own or along with chest discomfort.

iv)          Excessive sweating, giddiness, loss of sleep and appetite, and nausea.

Key Disabilities

Owing to the nature of the disease, chronic heart failure can cause disabilities of various kinds, disrupting normal life to a great extent. The key limitations, or disabilities, that arise from these conditions are the following:

a) Physical disabilities

The most prominent physical disability can be severe exhaustion, or exercise intolerance, on the part of the patient. Even mild physical exertion can become difficult to perform for someone with CHF. The body requires oxygen and nutrients to fuel physical activities, and these cannot be provided at the necessary levels in a patient with CHF.

Since the entire mechanism of the body seems to be under an attack due to decreased oxygen flow, performing basic activities can become daunting. Daily life activities such as vacuuming, sweeping or using a lawnmower can become increasingly difficulty to perform, making return to work a difficult or impossible proposition.

For a person suffering from CHF, an attempt to perform such strenuous activities is usually followed by a period of shortness of breath which makes the task extremely uncomfortable and ultimately impossible to complete.

c) Psychological conditions

A person suffering from CHF can also suffer from severe psychological and interpersonal issues making it increasingly difficult to concentrate at work, and follow instructions and directions.  Often people become scared of their condition and they face anxiety problems.

Post a comment below to share your thoughts on this subject or ask us a question, we encourage you to be part of the Living with a Disability community.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

MD Maitland December 24, 2010 at 4:25 am

Re: Chronic Heart Failure Can Become a Disabling Condition
by Editorial Board on December 23, 2010

I believe your work in educating the general public on medical impairments (Disabilities) including Congestive Heart Fairure (CHF) is outstanding. Please keep up the good work for the benefits of our most volnurable members of our society. Happy Holiday Season!

M.D. Maitland,Esq.
SSI /Disability Attorney

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