“The utter disregard for adopting a healthy lifestyle, more so by patients treated for any kind of coronary heart disease, is among the major causes for heart failure,” said Dr. Rabin Chakraborty.
People are not paying heed to the time-tested wisdom that mindless snacking and eating are the major drivers of heart failure in humans. We tend to ignore the long-term consequences of increasingly moving towards unhealthy lifestyles. Little or no physical activity, smoking, alcohol, poor dietary habits such as having too many carbohydrates, consuming high fat rich packaged and junk foods, taking high sugar drinks, enjoying salty and spicy food, all affect our heart.
Heart failure is not very well known, but it is essential to talk about it as it is occurring in a larger population. It is being called a pandemic of sorts with more than twenty percent mortality rate.
The Beat Heart Failure initiative by the Times of India in partnership with Novartis, aims to spread awareness about heart failure and optimism among people that heart failure is manageable and preventable in most cases with timely diagnosis and a disciplined lifestyle apart from tremendous strides in the field of medicine.
Leading doctors from Super Specialty Medica Hospital, Kolkata joined the Beat Heart Failure discussion, namely:
Prof (Dr) Rabin Chakraborty: Sr Vice Chairman
Dr. Dilip Kumar: Director Cath Lab Cardiology
Dr. Arindam Pandey: Consultant Intervention Cardiologist
How do you explain the term “Heart Failure” to your patients?
Dr. Kumar took the lead and answered that Heart failure is a colossal problem. Thirty-five to forty million people worldwide suffer from the problem, and the economic burden is even huge. Approximately one-hundred-thirty-six billion dollars are spent per year in the treatment of heart failure.
The term heart failure is often confused with a heart attack, heart blocks, the distinction of the terms for easy comprehension can be:
Heart attack is the sudden stoppage of blood supply to the core, causing rapid damage to the Myocardial cells. If not treated on time, it results in permanent damage.
Heart failure is a syndrome where the heart muscle cannot contract or relax, a gradual weakening of heart muscle where the heart cannot pump blood required by the body.
Why is there is a rise in heart failure in the younger population?
There is a rise in obesity in school children, decreased physical activity, or a surge in smoking or alcohol in the young, contributing to poor heart health.
What are the types of heart failure?
Dr. Pandey elaborated that people believe that heart failure is a condition where the heart has not stopped working, but the heart is working at a reduced capacity. The heart’s normal function is to receive deoxygenated blood from the body and send it to the lungs. The heart then gets oxygenated blood from the lungs and circulates it to the whole body. Any problem in the process will be called heart failure. There may be a heart contraction problem called systolic heart failure. A problem in the relaxation due to the stiffness of the heart muscle is called diastolic heart failure.
What are personal risk factors that one should know?
People need to understand that someone with a comorbidity such as diabetes and hypertension is already in stage A of heart failure. The clock has started. Dr. Kumar mentioned that obesity, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, smoking, and alcohol account for modifiable risk factors and need focused management to minimize the threat of heart failure occurrence.
There are also genetically associated risk factors like family history of heart failure that are not modifiable.
Monitoring and surveillance of risk factors under medical guidance, either a general physician or a cardiologist, is strongly recommended to prevent further worsening.
When a person comes in late stages of heart failure, what is the prognosis?
Management of heart failure varies from a case-to-case basis. Dr. Robin elaborated that stage A is when the person is at risk of developing the disease with no symptoms. Stage B is mild symptoms. Stages C and D are the late stages with significant changes. Patients presenting themselves for treatment later in stage C when the heart muscle has considerably weakened are a significant medical challenge. At this point, it is exceedingly difficult to bring the heart back to normal.
Dr. Robin further added that heart failure is sometimes ignored in women. Females might have a history of high blood pressure during or after pregnancy, often not managed. It may cause the weakening of heart muscle.
People need to be aware that symptoms in women and men may not follow a similar trajectory. However, he stressed equal focus on heart failure causes for women.
At birth, children with heart disease need to be adequately addressed else that may progress to late-stage heart failure as they grow up.
How do the symptoms progress?
Today a person is moving about with no symptoms, gradually day-to-day activities may become difficult said, Dr. Kumar. Effort intolerance is the primary symptom of increasing fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling of legs or abdomen, syncope, giddiness, and the like. People need to look closely at heart failure signs and symptoms to avoid burdening their heart to cause heart failure ultimately.
What are the common mistakes made by people?
The main objective of the doctors is that patients reverse to a normal lifestyle. People should realize that the doctor presently might have stopped worse from happening with treatment. Patients owe themselves to stick to medication, food choices, exercise schedule, and follow-up of consultation at the prescribed frequency with either a cardiologist or a doctor to prevent the risk from resurfacing again. Do not revert to the original lifestyle by indulging in unhealthy ways of living.
What are the surgical options?
Continuous progress in medical science has opened doors of hope for heart failure patients. Coronary bypass surgery redirects blood around a section of blocked or partially blocked artery. A coronary stent is placed in the newly opened area of the artery to help from narrowing or closing again. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy or CRT is a pacemaker that helps the heartbeat at a regular rhythm in patients with left bundle branch block. These devices assist at times in reversing the deterioration.
In terminally ill patients, according to the Interfaces classification (classification for heart failure patients), 1-3 will require either an artificial heart or heart transplant.
The artificial hearts help in correcting the ejection fraction of the left ventricle. In India, twenty-five to thirty artificial hearts are transplanted. Everyday life is possible with artificial hearts. People have entered the Olympics with artificial hearts.
Doctors concluded; Heart failure is more prevalent than the known statistics. We all agree that heart failure is a slow progressing series of visible or not so visible signs such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, or valvular heart disease. People are not aware of heart diseases. Therefore, there is a rise in heart failure cases and deaths. It is crucial to act before the symptoms worsen to prevent the progression of the disease.
Remember, heart failure isn’t about stopping. It’s about starting life in a new way. It can be managed with regular treatment and right lifestyle modifications. To know more about how to manage heart failure, visit https://www.toibeatheartfailure.com/blog
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