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4 Myths About Heart Failure You Should Stop Believing

Heart failure: Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle responsible for the pumping action weakens or stiffens, overtime. Therefore, the heart becomes unable to circulate blood properly. Here are some myths about heart failure you need to know.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Heart failure can affect you overall health
  2. It restricts the free flow of blood
  3. Heart failure is different from heart attack

How well do you really know about a heart disease? Of course, you might think that heart diseases impact only the elderly, right? But did you know that heart diseases can affect any age group and not just the elderly population. There are several such myths about heart diseases, especially pertaining to long-term ailments like heart failure.

Therefore, it's important to bust these misapprehensions, to maintain a healthy heart.

With 8-10 million people in India suffering from heart failure, it is one of the leading causes of deaths and repeated hospitalizations amongst all heart diseases. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle responsible for the pumping action weakens or stiffens, overtime. Therefore, the heart becomes unable to circulate blood properly, thereby limiting the amount of oxygen and nutrients circulated to all the other vital organs of the body.


Heart failure affects all age groups, genders, all races and individuals of all professions. However, many people are under the delusion that they are safe from ailments like heart failure and therefore they don't try to understand about this disease at all; rather confusing it with many other entities. Hence, it is important to know about this disease so that one can smartly take care of own heart, separating fact from fiction.

Let's bust some myths around heart failure:

1. Heart failure is same as heart attack: One of the commonest myths amongst patients and caregivers is that heart failure and heart attack are same medical conditions. This is NOT true.

Heart attack and heart failure are two different cardiovascular diseases with radically different causes, treatment and even outcomes. Heart attack is one of the major risk factors for heart failure as 1 out of every 4 people who suffer a heart attack eventually develop heart failure within four years.

2. Heart failure doesn't mean that the heart has stopped functioning: If you are suffering from heart failure, it DOES NOT mean your heart will fail and it will stop working abruptly. What heart failure means is that the heart will have to work harder than it used to. Proper treatment along with lifestyle changes can help patient lead a better quality of life.

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Heart failure restricts free flow of blood
Photo Credit: iStock

3. Only elderly can suffer from heart failure: While heart failure is more common people above 55 years of age, the disease is ominously increasing even in middle-aged and younger population, due to unhealthy dietary and lifestyle deviations. As a matter of fact, the mean age of heart failure patients in India is 59 years which is approximately 10 years younger than patients from western countries.

4. Living with heart failure is the end of normal life: While heart failure is a progressive disease, it could be managed through early diagnosis, proper treatment and lifestyle modifications. Cardiologists usually encourage Heart Failure patients to stay active, continue with routine activities and include light exercises in their daily lives, depending on the criticality of the disease and early on the patients with proper care and medication can lead a near normal life. Some vital tips to follow are:

  • Maintain a healthy diet by including green leafy vegetables
  • Reduce salt and fluid intake
  • Exercise regularly and maintain healthy body weight
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Manage cholesterol

(Dr. Sundeep Mishra is a Professor of Cardiology at AIIMS, New Delhi)

References:

(Heart failure in India: The INDUS INDiaUkieri Study study)

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(international Congestive Heart Failure (INTER-CHF) study)

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