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What is the Main Cause of Congestive Heart Failure?

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Heart Health

What comes to mind when you think of life-threatening health conditions you’d like to avoid? Cancer typically tops the list of diagnoses that most people are afraid of. And while cancer is undoubtedly a horrible disease, it’s not as common as heart failure. Did you know that more people are hospitalized with heart failure than all types of cancer combined? 

Over 6 million Americans live with congestive heart failure, with roughly 650,000 new diagnoses yearly. This debilitating illness is projected to cost the nation $160 billion by 2030. Individually, the average total medical cost for a heart failure patient is approximately $25,000 a year. 

While there are many reasons people develop heart failure, it nearly always stems from cardiomyopathy. Therefore, healing from cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure requires an in-depth understanding of these complex conditions. 

What is cardiomyopathy? 

Cardio refers to the heart. Myopathy comes from the Greek words “myo,” which means muscle, and “pathy,” which means suffering or disease. Put together, cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. 

Individuals with cardiomyopathy have hearts that are abnormally enlarged, thick, or stiff. As a result, the heart’s ability to pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body is reduced. Left untreated, this serious condition that weakens the heart often leads to congestive heart failure.  

There are several types of cardiomyopathy, with the two most common being: 

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common type of cardiomyopathy. It occurs in adults 60 and younger, and is more frequently seen in men and children. Sometimes referred to as systolic heart failure or heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, dilated cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, enlarges and loses its ability to pump well. 

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Typically inherited, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often presents unexpectedly in childhood or early adulthood. This condition causes a thickening of the heart muscle, resulting in the ventricles’ stiffness. 

When left untreated, the damage caused by cardiomyopathy can lead to congestive heart failure.

What is congestive heart failure? 

Congestive heart failure, or heart failure for short, is a serious condition in which the heart is not working as efficiently as it should. While the name might suggest otherwise, heart failure isn’t a complete loss of heart function. Unlike a sudden cardiac arrest or a heart attack, which can cause immediate loss of heart function, heart failure is a slow yet progressive disease. 

How is congestive heart failure diagnosed? 

A doctor who suspects congestive heart failure may order multiple tests, such as an ECG, coronary angiogram, MRI, or blood test. However, an echocardiogram is the most commonly used test for congestive heart failure. This non-invasive test uses ultrasound waves to produce images of the heart.   

An echocardiogram can help cardiologists determine the amount of blood the heart pumps with each squeeze, referred to as an ejection fraction (EF). A healthy heart’s ejection fraction is approximately between 50-70 percent. For example, an ejection fraction of 60 percent means that more than half of the blood in the left ventricle gets pushed out with each heartbeat. An ejection fraction above 50 percent generally guarantees that the body’s cells get the oxygen and nutrients needed to function. 

Types of heart failure 

Doctors use the ejection fraction to determine the different types of heart failure, such as: 

Left-sided heart failure 

  • Systolic heart failure 

Also referred to as heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), systolic heart failure occurs when the left bottom chamber of the heart (ventricle) becomes weak, making it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood through the body. Systolic heart failure is the most common type of heart failure. 

  • Diastolic heart failure 

Also referred to as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), diastolic heart failure occurs when the left ventricle becomes stiff, causing the heart to be unable to relax properly. Diastolic heart failure typically occurs in older adults or as a result of underlying conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. 

Right-sided heart failure 

Right-sided heart failure, also called cor pulmonale, typically occurs due to left-sided heart failure. When the left ventricle cannot pump blood to the rest of the body, fluid is forced back through the lungs, weakening the right side of the heart. 

Symptoms of heart failure and cardiomyopathy 

Symptoms of congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy vary from person to person and typically worsen as the disease progresses. While some individuals experience no signs until a major catastrophic event, others may notice the following: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath, which may worsen when lying flat
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abnormal heart rhythms, such as a fast heart rate or skipped beats
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or abdomen
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Loss of consciousness, such as fainting 

What causes congestive heart failure?

Most physicians will agree that heart failure has multiple causes, which may include:

  • Heart attack 
  • Hypertension
  • Alcohol or drug-induced 
  • Tachycardia, usually from AFib
  • Valvular heart disease, such as aortic stenosis, aortic insufficiency, or mitral regurgitation
  • Radiation-induced
  • Post-partum
  • Infections
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Sleep apnea 

And while all of these things may contribute to the onset of heart failure, they don’t address the underlying causes that lead to heart problems in the first place. 

The real cause of congestive heart failure is how most Americans live. As a society, many have strayed from our ancestors’ path. Instead of eating a whole-food, organic-based diet, moving our bodies regularly in nature, and embracing the sun, we are destroying our health.

Natural strategies for congestive heart failure

The typical pharmacologic approach to CHF and cardiomyopathy often includes beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARB, digoxin, and diuretics such as Lasix. More recently, a new class of drugs called SGLT2, such as canagliflozin and dapagliflozin, have been added to the mix. 

While medications may result in improvements, they also have significant side effects. Many heart failure patients report feeling unwell from the effects of the medications they are told to take. Cardiovascular issues do not result from a pharmacological deficiency. Drugs serve a time and place in heart failure treatment, but there should always be a goal to reduce or eliminate them safely. 

The best strategies for treating congestive heart failure naturally include: 

Eat well 

Consume an organic diet free of pesticides, chemicals, and other artificial ingredients. Avoid processed foods, sugar, gluten, and unhealthy vegetable oils. 

Instead, focus on whole foods such as vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Include organic grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry, and eggs. Increase your consumption of wild-caught fish. Adding grass-fed organ meat to the diet would also be heart-helpful. 

Studies have found nutritional deficiencies predict poor outcomes in those with CHF. Getting the appropriate nutrients from eating a healthy diet is critical. However, some individuals may benefit from additional support through supplementation. Hawthorn berry, CoQ10, and L-carnitine are excellent natural remedies that support a failing heart. Natural Heart Doctor has multiple supplemental support protocols for cardiomyopathy. 

Live well 

Most Americans lead a very sedentary lifestyle, spending most of their time in cars, behind computers, or on couches. Time spent in nature is minimal, as it is with the healing sun. 

Movement is essential in reducing the symptoms of cardiomyopathy and CHF. After medical clearance:

  1. Aim to exercise at least five days a week, preferably in the fresh air.
  2. Embrace nature with hikes in the woods, bike rides, and walks outside.
  3. Allow as much of your body to see the sunlight each day as is safely possible.
  4. Avoid toxins in your home and environment. 

Advanced biohacks for reducing cardiomyopathy and strengthening the heart include red light therapy, sauna use, and cold therapy. Studies have found red light therapy may improve tissue damage that results in heart failure. Research also suggests that sauna use is associated with improved cardiac function, at least in the short term. 

Think well 

While diet and exercise are vital components in healing the heart, the mind should not be ignored. Unfortunately, stress is an often-overlooked factor in the development of cardiomyopathy. 

Stress increases inflammation in the body, which indirectly harms the heart. For example, Takotsubo syndrome, also referred to as stress cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome, is a condition that weakens the heart when a person undergoes sudden acute stress. 

For the mind to work well, the body must be well rested. Therefore, an essential natural strategy to reduce the impact of cardiomyopathy is sleep. Aim for 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night. 

Surround yourself with a loving community and avoid toxic relationships that may harm your heart. 

Next steps 

Getting a congestive heart failure or cardiomyopathy diagnosis is certainly scary. After all, no one wants to hear that their heart is at risk of failure. However, while CHF is generally a progressive disease, there are many things you can do to halt the progression and even reverse the disease. 

The most important thing someone with heart failure or cardiomyopathy can do is to get to the root cause of the problem. What if a B1, zinc, or copper deficiency is contributing to your heart failure? What if low levels of magnesium or potassium are the source? How about mold mycotoxins or environmental toxins? 

At Natural Heart Doctor, we believe in using the most advanced testing in the world to find the why behind the disease and use the information to fix the problem. Level 2 testing is the best place to start for individuals with CHF. Only through addressing the root cause of heart failure can we hope to achieve the 100 Year Heart.  

Eat well, Live well, Think well

Medical Review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD 2022


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With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

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Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.


Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.


Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.