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Heart Failure

Definition

Chronic heart failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure, means that the heart has weakened and is no longer providing enough blood/oxygen to meet the body’s needs. It is one of the more common cardiac conditions among people over 65 and it’s also one of the more common reasons older people require hospitalization. It generally worsens over time, although there are some effective therapies available. 

The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease. Other diseases that affect the heart, including diabetes, can also contribute to heart failure; being extremely overweight is also a contributing factor.

Some of the signs of heart failure include:

  • feeling weak or fatigued when exercising or performing a physical activity

  • swelling in the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen

  • being short of breath during exertion; a person in the later stages of heart failure may feel short of breath when lying down

Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, your physician will likely recommend a therapeutic regimen that will treat the heart failure and the underlying disease that caused it, as well as limit the impact of any factors that may be making it worse.

Some of the drugs commonly used in the treatment of heart failure include:

  • diuretic agents, which help reduce fluids and swelling

  • digoxin, which helps to normalize the heart rate and rhythm

  • certain blood pressure-reducing agents  (usually, ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers), which also help open up blood vessels and maintain the health of heart tissue

You’ll most likely be advised to make some modifications to your lifestyle habits, such as :

  • restrict your intake of fluids and salt (this is very important)

  • achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • follow a program of moderate exercise

  • stop smoking

  • limit alcohol intake

While there is no “cure” for heart failure, treatment can ensure you don’t have to severely limit your activities.

 

 

 

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