Massage Therapy & Bodywork Precaution or Contraindication: Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Massage Therapy & Bodywork Precaution or Contraindication: Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart is not able to pump blood the way it should. It can affect one or both sides of the heart, and can also be diagnosed in various stages.

The weakening of the heart's pumping ability causes:

  • Blood and fluid to back up into the lungs
  • The buildup of fluid in the feet, ankles and legs - called edema
  • Tiredness and shortness of breath

Common causes of heart failure are coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It is more common in people who are 65 years old or older, African Americans, people who are overweight, and people who have had a heart attack. Men have a higher rate of heart failure than women.[i]

CHF is a Body Massage Precaution/Contraindication.  It is thought that circulatory body massage increases the body’s circulation.  In CHF, the heart is already failing to process its existing circulation; therefore, increasing the circulation on a failing organ could be harmful.  There is disagreement upon experts whether this CHF precaution/contraindication should be exercised for acute cases only, or if all chronic and acute CHF should be treated the same.  We advise speaking to the client’s medical physician and ask them for approval to increase circulation through bodywork or massage in their CHF client.

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#massage #massagetherapy #massageprecautions #massagecontraindications

[i] US Health & Human Services. "Heart Failure" National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 2 Aug 2018,




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