Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a situation when the heart is unable to pump blood. It can be systolic heart failure which means the heart is not able to contract efficiently. Or it can be diastolic heart failure when the heart is not able to relax and expand properly. The times are such that anxiety and stress have become a standard part of our lives owing to the increased workload and the virus threat. The more there is stress, the strain on the heart is more, increasing the risk of heart failure among all age groups. The times have gone when heart diseases were only limited to the older generation. This condition has become extremely common among the younger adults too.
The weakness of heart muscle causes systolic heart failure. Stiffness of heart muscle causes diastolic heart failure are some of the possible causes of heart failure. Throwing light on the growing need of taking care of your heart during these pandemic times is Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, Senior Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.
Common Conditions Of Heart failure
Heart failure develops due to damage to the heart muscles caused by various disease processes. The most common cause is ischemic heart disease due to the blockages and resultant heart attack, leading to damage to the heart muscle. The other causes are due to valve disease, a viral infection affecting heart muscles, hypertension, tachycardia related cardiomyopathy where the heart muscle becomes weak due to rapid heart rate, some genetic diseases like ARVD, chronic alcoholism etc.
Symptoms And Signs Of Heart Failure
Breathlessness on exertion is the most common initial symptom of heart failure, and Gradually the breathlessness appears at lesser amounts of exertion. In advanced cases, the breathlessness persists even at rest or in lying down position. Other symptoms are becoming fatigued and tired easily, with even low levels of activity. The commonest sign of heart failure is swelling at the ankle region in both legs. This is due to water retention. Water retention also leads to weight gain.
Diagnosis Of Heart Failure In Pandemic Times
Heart failure is suspected when the symptoms and signs mentioned earlier are present. Then we order investigations like ECG, chest x-ray, 2D echocardiogram and blood tests. A simple blood test nT PROBNP is very valuable in the diagnosis of heart failure when in doubt. These tests help in diagnosis as well as establishing the cause of heart failure. When needed further tests like cardiac MRI and coronary angiogram etc. are done.
Tips to Reduce Heart Failure Risk In COVID Times
When we can reduce the risk of heart disease, we can reduce the risk of heart failure. To keep the heart healthy, we have to eat healthy food, do exercise regularly like brisk walking for 30 to 45 mins daily at least five days a week. Other aerobic exercises like cycling, swimming, walking on a treadmill etc. are also good for the heart. We have to maintain ideal body weight and avoid becoming obese. Smoking is a very high-risk factor for heart disease and should be completely avoided. If there is high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol levels, then they should be adequately treated.
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