Get answers to your Heart Failure questions.
Cardiomyopathy; Congestive heart failure
For people over age 65, heart failure is the number one cause of death, with nearly 290,000 people dying from this disease each year. Nevertheless, although heart failure produces very high mortality rates, treatment advances in hypertension, heart surgeries, and heart pacemakers are improving survival rates.
Cardiac Cachexia. If patients with heart failure are overweight to begin with, their condition tends to be more severe. Once heart failure develops, however, an important indicator of a worsening condition is the occurrence of cardiac cachexia, which is unintentional rapid weight loss (a loss of at least 7.5% of normal weight within 6 months).
Impaired Kidney Function. Heart failure weakens the heart‚ ' s ability to pump blood. This can affect other parts of the body including the kidneys (which in turn can lead to fluid build-up). Decreased kidney function is common in patients with heart failure, both as a complication of heart failure and as a complication of other diseases associated with heart failure (such as diabetes). Studies suggest that in patients with heart failure, impaired kidney function increases the risks for heart complications including hospitalization and death.
Congestion (Fluid Buildup). In left-sided heart failure, fluid builds up first in the lungs. Later, as right-sided heart failure develops, fluid builds up in the legs, feet, and abdomen. Fluid buildup is treated with lifestyle measures, such as reducing salt in the diet, as well as drugs, such as diuretics.
Arrhythmias (Irregular Beatings of the Heart)
Depression. The presence of depression indicates a poorer outlook for the heart. Studies indicate that depression may have adverse biologic effects on the immune and nervous systems, blood clotting, blood pressure, blood vessels, and heart rhythms. People who are depressed may fail to follow medical instructions and may not take good care of themselves.
Angina and Heart Attacks. While coronary artery disease is a major cause of heart failure, patients with heart failure are at continued risk for angina and heart attacks. Special care should be taken with sudden and strenuous exertion, particularly snow-shoveling, during colder months.
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