Congestive heart failure, or CHF, is a serious heart condition. The heart of people with CHF, sometimes simply referred to as heart failure, is unable to do its job properly and pump enough blood to supply the body with needed blood and oxygen.
As a result, congestive heart failure may lead to life-threatening conditions such as kidney damage or failure, problems with heart valves, liver damage, heart attack, and stroke. In some cases, CHF may even lead to sudden death or require a heart transplant.
Congestive heart failure is characterized by a variety of symptoms including fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and irregular heartbeat. People with CHF may experience swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet, limited ability to exercise, a persistent cough and wheezing. Swelling of the abdomen, weight gain from fluid retention, loss of appetite, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and reduced alertness may also occure.
For most congestive heart failure patients, their condition and prognosis can be improved by implementing lifestyle changes designed to reduce risk factors that make CHF worse, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and coronary artery disease. Effective lifestyle changes include stress management, losing weight, reducing dietary salt, and of course, exercising.
Exacerbated by CHF fatigue and shortness of breath, one of the major complaints for congestive heart failure patients engaging in exercise, or even normal activities such as walking, is leg fatigue. According to a University of Leeds study, researchers found that leg fatigue and leg muscle dysfunction, is directly proportionate to CHF severity.
During the course of the study, researchers examined how quickly the leg muscles, along with the heart and lungs, responded after CHF patients engaged in moderate warm-ups. Researchers found that moderate exercise warm-ups increased muscle enzymes related to energy production. In other words, moderate warm-ups improved oxygenation of leg muscles.