Steps To Take At Home To Improve The Treatment Of Heart Failure

2013-01-18 | |
Last updated: 2013-01-18

The diagnosis of heart failure can be extremely unnerving because we are all well aware of the importance of a properly functioning heart. The thought that our heart is failing brings to mind thoughts of a heart attack and sudden death, but this is not what heart failure is normally about. Suffering from heart failure will lead to shortened life expectancy and a much poorer quality of life, but it is frequently a chronic condition that people can live with for a number of years.

Because people can live with the effects of heart failure for so long, it becomes important to understand how quality of life can be improved. Fortunately, in recent years, medical research has found a number of ways by which the rate of deterioration from heart failure can be slowed and the effects of the disorder reduced. While much of this research is directed toward new and better medications, the research has also identified actions that an individual can take to improve their quality of life and slow the progression of the disease.

What Is Heart Failure?

The term “heart failure” is a misleading one because the combination of words can be confused with much more immediate and deadly events such as a heart attack. While heart failure is a very serious diagnosis, the severity of the disorder varies significantly. This means that the exact details of a given diagnosis are much more important than the label.

That said, what heart failure is, in simple terms, is an inability of the heart to effectively do the job of pumping blood throughout the body. Since blood is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to our cells, poor blood flow means that our cells and tissues are deprived of both. The most noticeable effects of such poor blood flow are fatigue and shortness of breath. Also, because the heart is not moving as much blood as it should, fluid will accumulate in the lower limbs and in the lungs. Overall, exertion becomes increasingly difficult with increasing severity of the condition.

Long term, what makes heart failure dangerous is that it leads to inactivity and to muscle wasting. Patients with the disorder may have stable symptoms over a period of time but frequently, the muscle wasting will cause further health deterioration. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, roughly two thirds of people with heart failure will have lost muscle mass. As well, lung infections may occur that can further stress the system and lead to worsened health.

How Many People Are Affected By Heart Failure?

As serious a condition as heart failure is, it also affects a significant number of people. According to the American Heart Association, almost 2% of the population lives with heart failure and 5% of hospital visits are because of the condition. For the most part, the disorder affects older adults with 1 in 15 adults between the ages of 75 and 85 having the condition and 1 in 7 seniors over the age of 85 sufferings from heart failure. The condition is much less common in those under 50.

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Category: Disease Information, Medical Research, Medical Treatment

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