​Chronic heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, is very serious but your healthcare team can help you to manage the symptoms and to optimize your quality of life. It happens as a result of your heart muscle becoming damaged, weak and unable to pump properly. Once your heart is damaged, it cannot heal. 

This damage can be as a result of a heart attack, long-term high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. It can also be caused by cardiomyopathy​

Chronic heart failure causes a build-up of fluid in the body and will make you feel very weak and tired. You may experience breathlessness, swollen abdomen, ankles or legs, you may gain weight, lose your appetite or feel dizzy and cough a lot. 

Treatments include long term medication and the possible introduction of a medical device such as a pacemaker or implantable cardiac defibrillator. In special cases you may need a heart transplant. 

It is important to constantly monitor your symptoms and tell your doctor if you feel more breathless than usual, put on more that 2kg in two days, can’t lie down, are coughing at night, get increased swelling or chest pains. You should weigh yourself regularly to monitor any fluid build-up. 

Lifestyle changes​  will be necessary to manage chronic heart failure. You will need to restrict your fluid intake to 1.5 liters a day and eat less salt to ensure your body doesn’t retain more fluid. 

Don’t smoke: smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and creates a build-up narrowing your arteries, making your heart’s job harder. 
You should eat more fruit and vegetables and eat less saturated fats and trans fats and limit caffeine intake and soft drinks. 

Exercise every day, based on the advice of your doctor.