What is acute heart failure and how long can you live with it?

Long story short my dad has been really sick for weeks. He is in the hospital now and he has 2 collapsed lungs, a weak heart, and fluid in his lungs. Since I'm his power of attorney I allowed them to do surgery to get the fluid out. They got a liter of fluid out but he was still dependant on the respirator. Well today the nurse in ICU said he had a weak heart and acute heart failure. He is eating and drinking though. I asked her to clarify what it was but she explained it in medical terms so I dont know all the fancy medical words. She did say acute heart failure is much worse then congestive heart failure. I'm extremely upset and need some words of wisdom. Is this a death sentence? Will he have to stay in ICU? How long can he live with this condition? I been researching all this but keep getting conflicted answers. Is acute heart failure able to be cured? My grandfather died at 65 from the same thing and my dads 67. Will he be ok?


He started on the respirator and a few days later he was off. He cant walk now cause his blood pressure is low. Today they said his heart function is at 25% and they are being do a procedure where they will take images in his chest to see where to proceed next. He will be transferred to deborah heart and lung center where he will recieve a higher level of care and have heart surgery. They said he definately wont be leaving the hospital soon

5 Answers

  • Check with Rick B. on that one.  At "his hospital" he tells "all of his nurses" to give "all his COVID positive patients" Chloroquine & to hang bags of IV Lysol.  Rick B. is a PA, PHD, MD, AND a CRNP!! 

    But actually, in heart failure, one or both ventricles become weak & are unable to expel blood.  When the left ventricle fails, blood backs up into the left atrium & then into the lungs via the pulmonary arteries & the patient literally begins to drown in their own blood.    Compliance with treatment is critical.  There are meds that increase the strength of the heart beat (ergo, ejecting more blood) & meds (diuretics) to dry the lungs out.  Fluid restriction is called for as well.  Probably he was on a ventilator, not a respirator. 

    Acute refers to the sudden onset.  HF is not cureable; once the ventricles have deteriorated they do not regenerate.  But it is manageable.

    Good luck.  Hang in there & hopefully your dad will too.

  • 5 months ago

    Acute heart failure is a condition where the heart can't pump enough blood for all the organs to work normally.  Acute means it had a sudden onset.  His prognosis depends on the cause of the condition and the severity of the problems that triggered the acute failure.   Virtually no conditions capable of causing acute heart failure are curable, but many are manageable.  You will have to ask the people caring for him more questions to get a better sense of what's going on.   The possible outcomes range from little chance of getting out of the ICU to getting control of the problems and getting back to the condition he was in before this latest incident. 

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago

    Go back to his doctor and ask THEM to clarify. No one here can possibly assess his condition. And doing so would only confuse matters more.

  • Rick B
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    How is he eating and drinking if he is on a ventilator??????

    Acute simply means "sudden or new".  The opposite would be "chronic".  There is also acute on chronic (an exacerbation of a chronic issue).

    There are many reasons for heart failure.  Is it Left-sided?  Right-sided?  Congestive?  Hypovolemic?  My guess is that he is fluid overloaded and he is getting lasix to make more urine.  This fluid overload, combined with a weak Left Ventricle, is causing fluid to back up into his pulmonary vascular system and causing pulmonary edema.

    Someone in the ICU with pleural effusions, who is intubated and has heart failure has a pretty poor prognosis.  These are all questions you should be discussing with his doctor.  You need to arrange a family meeting and have all the staff there to explain is condition, his plan of care, and his prognosis.

    I'm still confused how someone with "two collapsed lungs" who is on a "respirator" is able to eat and drink.  That makes no sense.  I think some of your terminology is off.

    Also, have the done an echocardiogram?  What is his ejection fraction?

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  • 5 months ago

    I'm sorry.  I don't know but that sounds bad.  I suggest praying.    I will pray for you and your dad too.   

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