People display a kind of despondency on being diagnosed with heart failure. They often seem to believe that their life is about to end. But the word heart failure does not mean that heart has stopped working. Heart failure may not be fatal. It is a widespread problem, and eight to ten million people in India are estimated to be suffering from heart failure. Heart failure is the slow and progressive weakening of the heart muscle and can result from pre-existing comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. It is essential to understand the genesis of heart failure due to the rise in mortality to more than thirty percent if left untreated. Still, there is a ray of hope since treatment options are available for every stage of heart failure. To keep this ray of hope alive, The Times of India initiated Beat Heart Failure in partnership with Novartis which aims to educate people about heart failure, its management, and treatment options. The campaign has been running successfully for more than two and a half years. For the purpose of spreading awareness amongst the masses, doctors from the best hospitals from various parts of the country have joined the initiative to address the common myths and misconceptions associated with the disease.
In the ongoing series, the doctors from NHMMI Narayana Super-specialty Hospital, Smart City Hospital, and Vishesh Jupiter Hospital joined the campaign – Dr. PK Hari Kumar – Sr Consultant Cardiothoracic Vascular Surgery Swapnil Garde – Chief Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Shailendra Trivedi – Director – Department of Cardiology https://fb.me/e/1rN3R3fIX Heart attack is not heart failure. Heart failure is a gradual progressive weakening of the heart muscles when the heart cannot pump blood efficiently to fulfill the body’s metabolic needs, explained Dr. Trivedi. Many causes that include metabolic or some other factors can bring about gradual weakening of muscles leading to heart failure. Symptoms in patients may vary depending on the extent of the damage to the heart. Heart failure, if caught early, can be reversed, but a delay can lead to complications and severe damage to the heart muscle.
Pre-existing co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity are the primary causes of heart failure worldwide. In India, the mortality rate is more than the global average rate, due to a rise in infections such as rheumatic heart disease caused because of streptococcus pneumonia and tuberculosis of pericardium, stated Dr. Garde.
Myocarditis or inflammation of the middle layer of the heart due to viral infections can be the origin of cardiac failure. The heart has four valves that prevent the backflow of the blood. Any deficiency in the valves may precipitate heart failure. There can be flaws in the heart, such as a hole in the heart (in medical terms, a patent foramen ovale) or stenosis of the aorta, and more imperfections may cause heart failure, said Dr Kumar.
Many people ignore signs and symptoms at the onset of old age. The disease has already set in when the patient comes to the doctor. Timely treatment is essential. Earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the earlier the damage can be reversed.
The common symptoms of heart failure include swelling in feet, breathlessness, shortness of breath on exertion on climbing the stairs, and increasing fatigue. The patient also complains of difficulty lying down straight.
Heart failure can be either acute or chronic. Acute heart failure sets within a few hours, and the most common root causes are heart attack, damage to blood vessels and valves, and infective sources. Vascular causes of heart failure occur due to changes in hemoglobin. A chronic heart failure patient can present with acute heart failure known as acute exacerbation with diabetes and hypertension.
The doctors being consulted, emphasize paying attention to the risk factors. People with a family history of heart disease should be extra vigilant and get regular checkups. American diabetes association states that people with diabetes are already in stage one of heart failure. Even if the patient doesn’t have any visible symptoms, the people in stage one will do well with regular screening by a cardiologist. The diagnostic tests doctors employ for detecting heart failure are electrocardiograms, stress tests, angiograms, and 2D echo. In all likelihood, these tests will confirm structural and functional changes in the heart. The doctors may go for a heart MRI and some other scans to determine the extent of heart failure.
Once a patient presents with heart failure symptoms, the treatment aims to reduce swelling in the legs and reduce congestion in the lungs. The initial focus on managing symptoms helps reduce the fears of patients, and their confidence rises. The doctors begin with optimal medical treatment. There is a vast array of medicines. The drug therapy is aggressive in cases with severe damages. Medical management has been increasingly proving to be effective, and excellent results in the treatment of heart failure have been on the rise when patients stick to the stipulated discipline.
Surgical options for management of heart failure include insertion of stents, revascularization, valve replacement, cardiac resynchronization therapy devices, and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. If the patient is in the end stage of heart failure, then left ventricular assist devices are used as a bridge to transplant. Destination therapy is a heart transplant in the last stage of heart failure.
It is not only in adults, but it is also equally important to diagnose children born with issues in the heart. However, a child can lead a life like any average child, post-treatment and surgery for a hole in the heart. Patients with severe damage to heart muscles have positive and reassuring outcomes on treatment with surgery and medication, Dr. Kumar.
The doctors ended the discussion with a positive message of staying hopeful if diagnosed with heart failure. It is necessary to assess the risk and extent of damage to the heart and commence treatment accordingly. Management of risk factors is crucial to prevent further damage.
Remember, heart failure isn’t about stopping. It’s about starting life in a new way. To know more about how to manage heart failure, visit www.toibeatheartfailure.com Disclaimer: “The views and opinions expressed in the article by the panelists/experts are based on their independent professional judgment and are disseminated in the public interest. These views should not be considered as a substitute for the professional advice of a registered medical practitioner. The purpose of this article is not to promote any medical procedures or medication and/or recommend a certain doctor. For any specific health issues, please consult your registered medical practitioner ”
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)