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Rapid Weight Loss in Congestive Heart Failure

By Rose Kitchen ; Updated July 27, 2017

Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not able to pump enough blood to supply the body with the amount of blood its tissues needs. The blood that enters the chambers of the heart, is not completely pumped out. According to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, this leads to a weakening of the heart due to blood backing up into the lungs and veins. It also leads to the body not being supplied with adequate amounts of oxygen. St. Luke's Texas Heart Institute states that approximately 285,000 patients died in 2008 due to heart failure.

Rapid Weight Loss

According to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, patients with congestive heart failure may experience rapid weight loss due to nausea. They may also experience rapid weight loss due to their body not being able to adequately absorb food. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that rapid weight loss is defined as losing at least 7.5 percent of a person's normal body weight within a six-month period.

Cardiac Cachexia

Cardiac cachexia is severe, unintentional weight loss that is seen in patients with heart disease. Several heart disease-related issues can cause this complication. According to Revolution Health, these include a decrease in appetite and an increase in nausea due to blood backing up into the intestines and liver leading to swelling, inadequate nutrient absorption due to swollen intestines, and in increase in body temperature that leads to an increase in metabolism because heart failure can force a patient to have to breathe harder. Cardiac cachexia can also occur when the metabolism increases due to tumor necrosis factor, resulting in the patient burning more calories. Tumor necrosis factor can lead to tissue death and increased inflammation.

Complications

When patients experience rapid weight loss with congestive heart failure, they may also experience other related complications. According to Health eMark, these can include shivering due to decreased body fat, gall stones due to acute dietary changes, hair loss due to lack of proteins, muscle tissue loss due to the body trying to consume energy, water loss due to muscle tissue loss, and hanging skin due to losing weight too quickly (in those who are overweight).

Symptom Control

Rapid weight loss in congestive heart failure is often due to nausea. Controlling this nausea can often lead to having better control over rapid weight loss. According to the Cleveland Clinic, patients can help to control their nausea by drinking ice-cold or clear drinks, eating bland foods, eating slowly, eating smaller meals more often, avoiding sweet or greasy foods, avoiding activity after a meal, not mixing cold and hot foods and not brushing their teeth right after they finish a meal.

Gaining Weight

Patients may need to gain back some of the weight they lost. According to the Mayo Clinic there are many ways to do this healthfully, such as eating smaller meals more often, adding in snacks that are calorie-dense, eating foods high in nutrients, avoiding coffee and sodas, not drinking with a meal because it can lead to becoming fuller faster and drinking healthy shakes or smoothies made with juice or milk. Consuming healthier sweets, such as yogurt, bran muffins and granola bars can also be beneficial. Adding cheese to scrambled eggs, soups and casseroles can also help to increase caloric intake.

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