[ Lymph Notes home ] [ Click to read 'I love my Caregivers' by Wanda ]
Click to read "I love my Caregivers" by Wanda

Lymphedema Compared with Congestive Heart Failure


The symptoms of CHF depend on
which side of the heart is affected.

Congestive heart failure, which is abbreviated as CHF, is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump out all of the blood it receives.

In addition, the heart is unable to pump enough blood out into the body's other organs.

CHF occurs most commonly among the elderly and it can result from:

  • Narrowed arteries that provide the blood supply to the heart muscles.
  • Scar tissue that interferes with the work of the heart muscle.
  • Hypertension, which is commonly known as high blood pressure.
  • Heart defects that have been present since birth.
  • Infections of the heart valves or diseases of the heart muscle.


There are two forms of this condition. These are:

  • Left-sided heart failure causes fluid buildup in the lungs.
    This  makes breathing difficult.
  • Right-sided heart failure causes fluid buildup in the feet  and legs. This swelling may also affect the liver, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and possibly the arms.


  • Medications to control blood pressure.
  • Additional medications may be prescribed to strengthen the heart beat, and to reduce the fluid load within the body.
  • Also, patients also may be advised to keep their legs elevated, or to wear compression stockings, to minimize swelling. This reduces the pressure on the heart and veins, and this allows fluid to return to the cardiovascular system.


CHF must be under control before the lymphedema can be treated. Therefore, when both conditions are present, the patient’s healthcare provider must be consulted before lymphedema treatment is provided.

  • Manual lymph drainage may be contraindicated if this movement of fluid places too much added strain on the heart by increasing the volume of circulating blood.
  • Bandaging may be contraindicated because it too can increase the strain on the heart. In some circumstances, bandages are modified and worn only to the knees
  • Compression stockings are used in the treatment of congestive heart failure; however, these stockings are not the same compression strength as the stockings used in the treatment of lymphedema.
  • Exercise, as tolerated by the patient, is recommended to improve heart function, venous circulation, and lymphatic drainage.


  •  Congestive Heart Failure by Tony Reid MD Ph.D.
  •  Living Well with Lymphedema by A. Ehrlich, MA, A. Harrewijn PT, CLT-LANA, and E. McMahon PhD. Lymph Notes, 2005, pages 89-90.
  • Lymphedema Caregiver's Guide by M. K. Kearse, PT, CLT-LANA, E. McMahon, PhD, and A. Ehrlich, MA. Lymph Notes 2009 pages 26-27.
  • American Heart Association. Heart Failure accessed 2012-10-22.

© LymphNotes.com 2014. This information does not replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.

Got a question or comment? Post in the 'Lymphedema and Other Conditions' forum.
Category: Lymphedema and Other Conditions Updated: 2014-10-24


Lymph Notes Forums
Not registered yet? Sign up now!

Members: 65,016, Threads: 787, Posts: 3,461
Our newest member is MichealAwaib.

Registered user? Log in here: