Heart failure is a major, worldwide public health issue, with the number of affected individuals standing at over 23 million worldwide, and rising. The American Heart Association says that one in five people have a lifetime risk of developing heart failure. Not only is the issue a serious health concern but it also poses a serious burden on healthcare costs across the world. Doctors and specialists agree that awareness and timely intervention are the best ways to relieving the burden of heart failure. Cardiovascular disease burden is increasing at an alarming rate in our country and patients of coronary artery disease, in the Indian subcontinent, are at least ten to fifteen years younger than their western counterparts.
What Is Heart Failure?
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle weakens and the heart enlarges, ultimately
rendering it incapable of pumping enough blood to the rest of the body. The power of the heart
muscle to pump blood decreases over a period of time. It usually takes years for severe heart failure
to develop, however early signs can be detected if regular and consistent check-up routines are
followed. Once a person knows they are at risk they should make immediate life style changes to
prevent heart failure in later years.
Heart failure doesn’t imply that the heart has stopped beating, according to popular belief. It simply
means the heart is not pumping adequate amount of blood. Therefore, the body’s need for oxygen is
not being met – this also puts the rest of the organs in the body at risk.
Patients manifest symptoms of the heart attack in various ways:
Shortness of breath:
Most common amongst them is shortness of breath – either while engaging in physical activity or in some cases even at rest.
Palpitation or increase in heart rate is another symptom. Fluid retention in the limbs is also a
common sign that the person is suffering from heart failure.
Other possible symptoms include decreased appetite, nausea and vomiting, confusion and impairment of thinking. People with heart failure are extremely susceptible to common illnesses like common cold, flu etc. And otherwise easy to manage illnesses can escalate rapidly in heart failure patients, sometimes even leading to death.
With cardio vascular disease burden on the rise, the incidence of heart failure has also seen a
dramatic increase. We are a population that doesn’t exercise regularly, has unhealthy dietary habits
and increased risk of diabetes.
The need of the hour is a streamlined system in which heart failure can be looked at in a focused and
comprehensive manner. The time has come to truly understand the nature of the disease and the
burden, how we can use our knowledge and expertise, and combine them with new technologies to
rein in the disease. Heart failure patients need a place where they can go to for their symptoms to be monitored and where they can explore all the options whether surgical or non-surgical to manage the disease: a one stop shop where they are given advice on correct nutrition and diet, and also cardiac rehabilitation for heart failure patients.
Life style modification is a key piece of the puzzle to manage and control the cardio-vascular disease or heart failure.