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Heart failure is also known as congestive heart failure (CHF) and it is the body’s inability to deliver sufficient blood supply to the organs of the body. Individuals with heart failure require multi-disciplinary management in the hospital and community setting. Physiotherapy is an integral part of the treatment and management of this condition and is essential to improve mobility, quality of life and minimise the risk of secondary complications

Symptoms of heart failure

The symptoms of heart failure include breathlessness, fatigue, swelling of ankles and feet, shortness of breath and fluid on the lungs. These symptoms can result in an overall reduction in mobility, exercise tolerance and stamina. Heart failure can make it difficult to carry out normal activities of daily living such as walking to the shops, putting the washing out or mowing the lawn.

Progressive exercises tolerance workouts supervised by an experienced physiotherapistAbove: Progressive exercises tolerance workouts supervised by an experienced physiotherapist

Diagnosis of heart failure

Heart failure is diagnosed via an echocardiogram and blood tests. An echocardiogram uses ultrasound imaging to measure the volume of blood that exits the heart as it pumps. A reduction in volume indicates the heart is not pumping properly and is failing.

Treatment for heart failure

Treatment for heart failure focuses on symptom management and avoiding progression of the condition. This usually involves medication such as ACE inhibitors which improve quality of life. It is important that the individual with heart failure leads a healthy lifestyle with careful balance of fluid and salt intake and regular light exercise.

Physiotherapy for heart failure

Individuals with heart failure substantially benefit from thorough assessment and treatment with a specialist physiotherapist. Assessment will comprise of a detailed analysis of muscle strength, range of movement, balance and exercise tolerance. Your physiotherapist will discuss the findings of the assessment and suggest specific short and long term goals to target treatment sessions. Depending on your problems and goals, treatment sessions will vary for each individual. Largely, physiotherapy treatment for individuals with heart failure will be focused on: Your physiotherapist will provide an individually tailored exercise program for you to continue with daily at home. This will consist of a series of exercises to increase strength, range of movement, balance, mobility and exercise tolerance. Your physiotherapist will assess your ability to walk and complete normal activities of daily living. If you are struggling with walking around your home or completing your normal chores, we will provide appropriate aids and equipment to help with this. Equipment may include a walking stick, Zimmer frame, outdoor walker, perching stool or kitchen station depending on your problems and aims. Our colleagues at Manchester Occupational Therapy can provide advice regarding major adaptations to the home environment such as stair-lifts or through floor lifts. Your physiotherapist will provide any training and education regarding the safe and effective use of equipment and show you how to minimise your symptoms of heart failure and reduce the risk of secondary complications.

The proven clinical benefits of physiotherapy include:
  • Improved mobility and balance
  • Increased stamina, fitness and exercise tolerance
  • Increased muscle strength and flexibility
  • Advice and provision of mobility aids and equipment
  • Learn exercise to do at home
  • Learn how to cope with breathlessness
  • Learn how to reduce ankle swelling
Your physiotherapist will use standardised formal outcome measures which are small tests used to keep an objective record of your level of improvement. For example, your physiotherapist may measure your ankles to ensure swelling is kept to a minimum or they may use a stopwatch to time the speed of your walking over a short distance. At, we believe the use of outcome measures is essential to demonstrate the benefits of physiotherapy and maintain motivation to complete regular exercise sessions.

With regular attendance at physiotherapy sessions, you will be able to achieve your goals and strive for a higher standard of quality of life.

Why for heart failure

At we understand that it is difficult to carry out a fulfilling active life with symptoms of breathlessness and fatigue. Our specialist physiotherapists can show you how to manage your symptoms and maintain the highest possible quality of life.
  • Treatment at any stage of your condition
  • Treatment at home or in the clinic
  • Knowledgeable, professional physiotherapists
  • Set targets and goals of your rehabilitation
  • Flexible appointment times
  • Access to specialised gymnasium and swimming pool
  • Access to hydrotherapy
Clinical research shows that individuals with heart failure substantially benefit from regular physiotherapy. You will notice significant improvements in balance, walking speed and overall quality of life. Physiotherapy sessions can be provided at any of our clinic locations or at home for your convenience. To book an appointment or discuss your symptoms of heart failure with one of our physiotherapists, please contact us now on 0330 088 7800. Alternatively, book an appointment online today!

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