The heart is indeed the most crucial part of your body. It's essential that you keep it beating healthy at every tick. With heart failure being common these days, let's talk about ways to keep a healthy heart.
How do you know you have a healthy pumping heart?
Did you know that heart failure is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States. Not many people take extra measures to ensure they have their annual heart check. Some of them end up not knowing that they already have heart complications — until it's too late.
When talking about “heart failure,” it may sound frightening. However, it doesn't mean the heart has “failed” or stopped working. It means the heart doesn't pump as well as it usually should.
Today, let's learn about how you can keep your heart healthy and what you need to know about heart failure. First, let's find out how common heart failure is.
How Common is Heart Failure and What You Need to Know
“With a healthy heart, the beat goes on.”
Almost 6 million Americans have heart failure, and more than 870,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure each year. The condition is the leading cause of hospitalization in people over age 65.
With the pandemic, it has become more recent more than ever. People diagnosed with COVID19 often face deathbeds due to heart failure, but this has been quite common in the states even before the sprout of the plague.
Who is Affected by Heart Failure
Heart failure is often more common in people who are 65 years old or older, overweight, and people who have a history of a heart attack.
Men also have a higher rate of heart failure than women. The AHATrusted Source reported in 2013 that only a quarter of men met federal guidelines for physical activity in 2011. They also estimated that 72.9 percent of U.S. men age 20 and older are overweight or obese. And about 20 percent of men smoke, which can cause the blood vessels to narrow. Narrowed blood vessels are a precursor to certain types of heart disease.
Are Symptoms Different in Men and Women?
Men and women often have the same symptoms for heart diseases and heart failure.
However, men are primarily associated with well-known heart failure systems like:
- crushing chest pain
- squeezing, discomfort, or fullness in the chest
- pain in the arm, jaw, or back
- shortness of breath
- cold sweat
On the other side, women are less likely to experience crushing chest pain. But, have a higher chance of having the following symptoms instead:
- pain in the jaw, neck, or chest
- feeling faint or lightheaded
- squeezing on the upper back
- fullness, pressure, or squeezing in the center of the chest
As a result, women are more likely to ignore their cardiac symptoms as it is less evident that they relate specifically to the heart.
What Are Some of the Causes and Symptoms of Heart Failure
Heart failure develops after underlying conditions have damaged or weakened the heart. However, it can also occur if the heart becomes too stiff.
The heart's pumping chambers may become stiff during heart failure and not fill correctly between beats. For some, the heart's muscle becomes damaged and unable to function well. Over time, the heart can no longer keep up with the typical demands placed on it to pump blood to the rest of the human body — thus heart failure.
Essentially, someone with heart failure may not have similar symptoms, or it can vary from mild to severe. These symptoms can be constant or can come and go. To take note of, here are the most common symptoms:
- Congested lungs. Shortness of breath during activity or trouble breathing at rest or while lying flat in bed might be caused by fluid accumulation in the lungs. A dry, hacking cough or wheezing can also be due to lung congestion.
- Dizziness, fatigue, and weakness. You will feel tired and weak if your major organs and muscles receive less blood. Less blood to the brain can cause dizziness or confusion.
- Fluid and water retention. Reduced blood flow to the kidneys promotes fluid and water retention, resulting in swelling ankles, legs, and belly (known as edema) and weight gain. Symptoms may cause the need to urinate more frequently during the night. Bloating in the stomach might result in a loss of appetite or nausea.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeats. The heart beats faster to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
If you have heart failure, you may experience one or more of these symptoms, or none at all. They may or may not signal a heart condition. This is why it's best to always consult your doctor if symptoms like this start to appear.
Any of the following conditions can harm or weaken your heart, resulting in heart failure. Some of these may exist without your knowledge:
- Faulty heart valves. The heart's valves keep blood flowing in the right direction. Whether caused by a heart defect, coronary artery disease, or heart infection, a broken valve makes the heart work harder, which weakens it over time.
- Coronary artery disease and heart attack. The most frequent type of heart disease and the leading cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease. This condition is caused by the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries, which restricts blood flow and might result in a heart attack.
When a coronary artery becomes fully clogged, it causes a heart attack. Because of the damage to your heart muscle caused by a heart attack, your heart may no longer be able to pump as well as it should.
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Abnormal heart rhythms can cause your heart to beat excessively quickly, putting extra strain on it. A slow heartbeat might potentially result in heart failure.
- High blood pressure. When your blood pressure is up, your heart needs to work more than usual to circulate blood throughout your body. This extra effort might cause your heart muscle to stiffen or weaken over time, making it unable to pump blood adequately.
- Heart muscle damage. This can be caused by various factors, including some disorders, infections, excessive alcohol consumption, and the toxic effects of medicines such as cocaine or some chemotherapeutic drugs. Genetic factors can also play a role.
- Congenital heart defect. If your heart and its chambers or valves do not form properly, the healthy components of your heart must work harder to pump blood, which can lead to heart failure.
- Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). Myocarditis is typically caused by a virus and can result in left-sided heart failure.
What Are the Treatments?
Heart failure is a chronic disease that must be managed for the rest of one's life. However, heart failure symptoms and signs can improve with treatment and help the heart recover and become more substantial over time.
Doctors can occasionally treat the underlying cause of heart failure and thereby cure it. Repairing a heart valve or managing a rapid heart rhythm, for example, may reverse heart failure.
However, for most people, treating heart failure entails a combination of the appropriate medications and the use of devices that assist the heart is beating and contracting effectively.
There are doctor treatments and medications available and surgery depending on the level of damage and treatment needed.
Here are also some medications, treatments, and surgeries for heart failure.
Heart failure is typically treated with a mix of treatments and medications. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to take one or more medications, such as:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Examples include enalapril (Vasotec, Epaned), lisinopril (Zestril, Qbrelis, Prinivil) and captopril.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers. Include losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan) and candesartan (Atacand), have many of the same benefits as ACE inhibitors.
- Beta blockers. Examples include carvedilol (Coreg), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL, Kapspargo Sprinkle) and bisoprolol.
- Diuretics. Such as furosemide (Lasix), also decrease fluid in your lungs so you can breathe more easily.
- Aldosterone antagonists. These drugs include spironolactone (Aldactone, Carospir) and eplerenone (Inspra).
- Positive inotropes.
- Digoxin (Lanoxin).
- Hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate (BiDil).
- Vericiguat (Verquvo).
- And other more medications.
Your doctor may prescribe other medications to treat specific symptoms. Some people may receive nitrates for chest pain, statins to lower cholesterol, or blood-thinning medications to help prevent blood clots.
To cure the underlying condition that caused heart failure, surgery or other treatments to implant cardiac devices may be advised. Heart failure surgery procedure may include:
- Heart valve repair or replacement. this procedure may be done as open-heart surgery, minimally invasive surgery, or a heart procedure using flexible tubes through cardiac catheterization.
- Coronary bypass surgery. If severely blocked arteries are causing your heart failure, your doctor may recommend coronary artery bypass surgery.
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Also called biventricular pacing, is a treatment for heart failure in people whose lower heart chambers (ventricles) aren't pumping in sync with each other.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). An ICD is used to avoid heart failure consequences. It is not a stand-alone treatment for heart failure. An ICD is a pacemaker-like device. It is implanted beneath your skin in your chest, with wires running through your veins and into your heart.
- Ventricular assist devices (VADs). A VAD — also known as a mechanical circulatory support device — is a device that helps pump blood from the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) to the rest of your body.
- Heart transplant. A heart transplant isn't the right treatment for everyone. A team of doctors at a transplant center will evaluate you to determine whether the procedure may be safe and beneficial for you.
These are just some of the surgeries your doctor may recommend for a patient with a heart failure case.
How to Keep a Healthy Heart
Keeping a heartbeat healthy is a holistic process. You have got to believe in your heart's ability to work, and you also need to make lifestyle changes and healthy practices. These changes may be among the most important and beneficial you can make to help your heart healthy.
A proper and consistent heart failure treatment can also improve symptoms and help you live longer. Make sure that you also keep in touch with your doctors and have your checkups done regularly.
You can also reach to me for a tele-health consultation regarding your health if you have more questions.