Never say it’s too late to man­age heart fail­ure

Record Observer - - Senior Satellite - By DR. JUAN CORDERO

If you have conges­tive heart fail­ure, you’re not alone. About 5.7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are liv­ing with it to­day. It’s one of the most com­mon rea­sons peo­ple ages 65 and older go to the hospi­tal.

Heart fail­ure doesn’t mean your heart is not work­ing at all. It ac­tu­ally means that it’s not work­ing as well as it should. Heart fail­ure oc­curs when the heart mus­cle can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

Signs and symp­toms of heart fail­ure include: • Short­ness of breath. • Swelling in the legs, an­kles and/or belly. • Sud­den weight gain. • Fa­tigue. • Con­fu­sion or can’t think clearly.

Heart fail­ure symp­toms usu­ally de­velop over weeks and months as your heart be­comes weaker and less able to pump the blood that your body needs. Heart fail­ure usu­ally re­sults in an en­larged heart.

What causes heart fail­ure? The most com­mon cause is coro­nary artery disease. This hap­pens when the ar­ter­ies that sup­ply blood to the heart mus­cle be­come nar­rowed by buildup of fatty de­posits called plaque. Other com­mon risk fac­tors include:

• Past heart at­tack has done some dam­age to the heart mus­cle.

• Heart de­fects present since birth. • High blood pres­sure. • Heart valve disease. • Dis­eases of the heart mus­cle.

• In­fec­tion of the heart and/or heart valves.

• Ab­nor­mal heart rhythm (ar­rhyth­mias). • Be­ing over­weight. • Di­a­betes. • Thy­roid prob­lems. • Al­co­hol or drug abuse. • Cer­tain types of chemo­ther­apy.

It’s never too late to man­age heart fail­ure, and left un­treated heart fail­ure can get worse. It’s very im­por­tant to fol­low the treat­ment plan de­vel­oped by your car­di­ol­o­gist and ded­i­cate your­self to adopt­ing a healthy life­style.

Your car­di­ol­o­gist may give you medicine to strengthen your heart and wa­ter pills to help your body get rid of ex­cess fluid. Not tak­ing your med­i­ca­tions as di­rected will likely lead to a trip to the emer­gency room.

Life­style changes may include:

• Fol­low­ing a low-sodium diet.

• Quit­ting smok­ing, you smoke.

• Weigh­ing your­self daily to check for weight gain caused by in­creased fluid.

• Track­ing your daily fluid in­take.

• Mon­i­tor­ing your blood pres­sure daily.

• Avoid­ing or lim­it­ing al­co­hol and caf­feine.

• Los­ing or main­tain­ing your weight based on your doc­tor’s rec­om­men­da­tions. • Be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive. While most of the time heart fail­ure can’t be cured, man­ag­ing it is crit­i­cal. Even if you’ve been ig­nor­ing signs and symp­toms for years, there’s time to get back on track. Mak­ing if sim­ple, healthy changes to your life­style and tak­ing your med­i­ca­tions can help you feel bet­ter and live a bet­ter qual­ity of life.

Learn your heart age and risk for heart disease with Anne Arun­del Med­i­cal Cen­ter’s FREE heart health pro­filer at askAAMC.org/ Heart. Com­plete the pro­filer by March 30 for your chance to win a $250 Ama­zon gift card.

Juan Cordero, MD, car­di­ol­o­gist with AAMG Car­di­ol­ogy Spe­cial­ists in Eas­ton. To reach his of­fice call 410-822-2440.

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