A newbie to heart failure: My husband... - British Heart Fou...

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A newbie to heart failure

Dims36 profile image

My husband is 58 and active, he has had a chest infection recurring over 2 months and this led to a sudden and massive ingress of water retention and an urgent doctors appointment which ended up with us in an ambulance on his way to A&E. He was in heart failure with Atrial Fibrilation. I am 53 and this is new to me in every way. Heart failure meant sudden death and its now explained as `the heart failing to work properly'. He seems in fairly good health having lost 15 kilo in just 10 days (mainly fluid). He does seem okay really, he has lots of medication and is currently at home being discharged on 5th January 2019. I am lost, he thinks the heart failure will stop and he will get back to normal and I am struggling to help him see without frightening him. The HF and AF have highlighted a stent is needed too and he has a slightly leaking valve which they are not acting on now. All of this he knows. The consultant said his heart was very poorly so we are following strict diet and fluids and filling in all the charts every day on BP, pulse, weight, o2, etc. We have the local HF team coming out to see us who are fantastic, how can I prepare him and what lifestyle can I realistically reassure him of. I am lost and need help please.

6 Replies

Hello Dims36 and welcome to the forum. It's a big shock for you both and a lot to take in. If you look to the column to the right of your post you will see heart failure and AF listed under topics. By clicking on those subjects you will be able to look at members posts under those subjects. I strongly suggest you speak with one of the BHF cardiac nurses by calling 0300 330 3311 they can answer any questions you have and offer support. You will see from posts on here that many people cope with and lead good lifestyles with heart failure. Wishing you well and I am sure you will get more responses on here from people with greater knowledge than I have on HF.

Hello Dims36. I think you will find that a journey lies ahead and you will get more and more information and meet different people with very different experiences of heart failure. I'm 6 months from diagnosis and learning such a lot. I have needed to accept that my heart is failing but have increased confidence in the medication I'm taking. Also I am aware that some are not as unwell as I am but others worse. I understand more the need to Pace myself, to look after my general health. I take most advice seriously. I am trying to have a positive outlook. So 6 months down the line I feel I am making progress with basic tasks, I drive a little, I still cook but I make sure that my goals are reachable so that I don't feel that I'm a failure. I hope your husband copes with the adjustments he needs to make and that you find the support you will need.

Hello Dims36. I'd like to encourage you with my story. I've just been told that my heart function is back to normal after bad heart failure last year. Like your husband it was due to a sudden serious infection which in my case caused all my organs to start closing down. Was in intensive care for ten days where they didn't hold out much hope: family gathered etc. I pulled through but with very poor heart function -- ejection fraction 20 (normal 50-70). No-one seemed to think there was much chance of improvement and the medics are mystified but obviously it can happen. Equally obviously I'm not suggesting my experience is relevant to your husband's case but I took enormous encouragement from anything I heard about chances of improvement and I think it's helpful to be optimistic.

Hello, my husband was diagnosed with a heart condition (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) almost 2 years ago, after a long chest infection. It was a huge shock for both of us. I can honestly say that at first we didn’t know what to expect. It took months for a clearer picture to emerge as drugs helped and further Echos and a cardiac MRI showed surgery was required. A year on from surgery and life is much more settled with ongoing drug therapy and doing enough but not too much. In fact my husband can do far more than I imagined at and just after diagnosis. As it’s early days for you I hope that your husband will find as his treatment is managed for him as an individual that everything settles. A new normal will evolve - and that doesn’t mean bad - just different from what you had before. We found the BHF nurses were absolutely marvellous so I’d certainly recommend speaking with them about your husbands condition and what the “gold standard” treatment/way forward is for him. Good luck with everything.

Hello Dims36

I was diagnosed with heart failure in April, probably resulting from a virus I didn’t know I had. Like Aoki, my heart is now working normally. I am on medication for life and I try to follow the dietary advice given in the BHF booklet.

Although all cases are different there can be positive long-term outcomes and I do hope that your husband will soon be on the road to recovery.


Hello, I was diagnosed with HF when I was 61 with an ejection fraction of 17. I too had loads of fluid in my mouth and excess fluid on my body - they got at least half a stone off me during a 5 night stay in hospital! 2 yrs on my EF was 43 this time last year - wasn’t checked at the last appointment - so will be interesting to see if it has improved again at my next app.

So yes there is always hope for things to get better. Downside for me is the exhaustion that comes with the beta blocker, but otherwise life is much better.

I religiously followed the food & fluid plans etc for the first year but must admit have slipped so my resolution this year is to get back on track and lose the weight that has crept on!


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