By Michael MacDonald
One of the leading cardiovascular diseases that take a toll on health globally is heart failure. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 million American adults are diagnosed with heart failure. In Singapore, heart failure is common, affecting 1 in 20 Singaporeans.
Heart failure is a clinical syndrome that manifests as a group of symptoms like breathlessness and leg swelling caused by the inability of the heart to pump blood to the body efficiently. Congestive heart failure is another term for heart failure.
Heart failure can be acute or chronic according to its onset.
Acute heart failure has a sudden and rapid onset. It can occur during massive myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, cardiac tamponade, or valvular rupture. Symptoms of acute heart failure may develop rapidly over days or weeks. Chronic heart failure develops more slowly over time. It generally manifests with leg swelling and shortness of breath on exertion.
The following are groups of people who are more vulnerable to developing heart failure:
Men and women are equally affected by heart failure.
Common signs and symptoms of heart failure are:
Your heart specialist will ask detailed questions about your family history and medical health. They will also conduct a physical examination and ask you how you feel.
Diagnosing heart failure can be challenging as the condition develops over time. However, the following diagnostic evaluation can help identify the causes of heart failure.
In some patients with the right treatment it can be reversed.
It has a high mortality rate as high as 50%, dependent on the stage of heart failure.
However, heart failure can be well-controlled. By taking your medication and having regular check-ups with your heart specialist, symptoms can improve.
The treatment for heart failure focuses on symptom control and slow down the progress of the disease. Ideally it should be managed by a heart failure specialist.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a personalized care plan and rehabilitation approach. It aims to provide education and support to manage the existing cardiac condition. The rehabilitation is not only limited to patient information but may also involve family members.
Cardiac rehabilitation is an individualized approach for long-term recovery and helps decrease the chance of having another cardiac event. It is a vital process to reduce hospital admission and help improve the quality of life.
Cardiac rehabilitation includes:
People with stable heart failure can benefit from cardiac rehabilitation. They can attend on-site sessions or do it at home. Ask your heart doctor about it for further information.
Heart failure is not only a national but a global public health burden. Over the years, the prevalence rate has been upsurging, with older people mainly affected. If you have shortness of breath or leg swelling, see a heart specialist now. Heart failure without treatment gets worse quickly and may lead to death.