Winter 2009
Living With Congestive Heart Failure

Heart Beats, Inc. Welcomes You!
FREE Lecture: “New Tests in Cardiology”
With Cardiologist Adolfo Luciano, MD
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
6:00 p.m.Refreshments and conversation Bridgeport Hospital, Café 267
Second Floor
6:30 p.m.Speaker and discussion,
Hollander Auditorium, Fourth Floor

Sharing & Caring Group (formerly Support Group)
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
5:30 p.m.Bridgeport Hospital,
duPont Board Room, First Floor
Open to cardiac patients (from any hospital), their loved ones and anyone interested in heart disease. Share your experiences and concerns and learn from others with similar experiences.

Living With Congestive Heart Failure

More than five million adults in the United States live with congestive heart failure—a serious condition for which there is no definitive cure. Congestive heart failure can be life-threatening, but with appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes, most people can continue their regular activities.

What is congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart struggles to pump an adequate amount of blood throughout the body. The weakened heart either cannot fill with enough blood or pump with enough force—or both.

This decreased pumping power can cause fluid to back up into the lungs or the abdomen, or build up in the lower extremities, causing shortness of breath, fluid retention and other symptoms.

Breaking News: Bridgeport Hospital
BEST in Connecticut for Heart Attack Survival!
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Could a person have congestive heart failure and not know it?
Symptoms can come on so gradually that some people do not realize something is seriously wrong with their heart. Most people with congestive heart failure have shortness of breath, low energy, nausea, a recurrent cough and swelling in the abdomen, hands, feet and legs. Others report feeling a heavy heart beat and an unusually fast heart rate. Some people need to use more and more pillows to elevate their head to sleep comfortably, while others experience a sudden weight gain of three to five pounds in a week or more than two pounds in a day.

What causes congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is usually caused by another heart problem. Common causes include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease (blocked arteries), valvular heart disease (leaky or blocked valves), cardiomyopathy (heart muscle damage) and congenital defects (problems with the heart structure present at birth).

What can a person with congestive heart failure do to stay healthy?
heart failure do to stay healthy? A comprehensive strategy combining education, medication, exercise and healthy eating can make all the difference in maintaining quality of life.

First, treat the underlying cause of your congestive heart failure. For example, if you also have high blood pressure, work on ways to lower it (with your doctor’s help) through diet, exercise and medication.

Second, consider making several lifestyle changes that may improve symptoms. A few things you can do:

  • Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat to 2,000 mg per day. Reading food labels can help you track how much sodium is in your food.
  • Reduce your saturated fat and trans fat intake to approximately 15 grams per day.
  • Exercise three to five times per week. Start slowly, increase gradually and be consistent.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Weigh yourself daily to check for fluid retention or swelling, and call your doctor if you gain more than three to five pounds in a week or two pounds in one day. You will need a good scale.
  • Stop smoking, reduce stress and drink little or no alcohol.

There are a variety of medications that can help improve your quality of life as well as reduce the need for hospitalizations related to congestive heart failure. Make sure to keep your doctors’ appointments, take medications as prescribed and report any symptoms of worsening heart failure to your doctor.

New pacemakers and defibrillators can help improve the function of a damaged heart muscle and dramatically reduce the risk of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat). As heart failure worsens, intravenous medications (IVs) given in the setting of a congestive heart failure clinic (available at Bridgeport Hospital) can help and may be recommended by your doctor. In extreme cases, a person may be a candidate for a heart transplant (available at Yale-New Haven Hospital, our partner in the Yale New Haven Health System).

Although there is no cure for congestive heart failure, there are several things you and your doctor can do to help you live life to its fullest. By addressing the cause of your congestive heart failure and developing an individualized treatment plan to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can better maintain your heart health.

Need a Physician?

Bridgeport Hospital proudly offers Fairfield County’s most comprehensive congestive heart failure services with access to state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment in a caring environment. For a referral to an expert physician affiliated with Bridgeport Hospital, or a cardiologist who specializes in congestive heart failure, call us toll free, 24/7, at 1-888-357-2396 or visit

Bean and Macaroni Soup

A cholesterol-free, inexpensive, low calorie, high-protein hearty winter soup.

  • 2 cans (16 oz) great northern beans or any white beans
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cut-up peeled fresh tomatoes or 1-1/2 lbs canned whole tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 4 cups cooked elbow macaroni


  1. Drain beans and reserve liquid. Rinse beans.
  2. Heat oil in a 6-quart kettle. Add mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, sage, thyme, oregano, pepper and bay leaf.
  4. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook macaroni according to directions on package using unsalted water. Drain when cooked. Do not overcook.
  5. Combine reserved bean liquid with water to make 4 cups.
  6. Add liquid, beans and cooked macaroni to vegetable mixture.
  7. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until soup is thoroughly heated. Stir occasionally

Yield: 16 servings, 1 cup each

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