Chennai: The leading cause of death and continuous hospitalisation amongst all cardiovascular diseases is heart failure, which is in fact, different from a heart attack, says Dr. R. Ravikumar, senior consultant at the Department of Heart Failure, Cardiology, Gleneagles Global Hospitals.
Heart failure is a chronic disease wherein the heart muscle responsible for the pumping action weakens over time. However, a heart attack is a sudden event, say experts from the Cardiological Society of India. Common symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, swelling in the ankles or legs or abdomen, need for elevated pillows while sleeping to breathe properly and unexplained fatigue while performing routine activities. Most of the times patients, as well as caregivers, tend to confuse the symptoms of heart failure with those of old-age or other cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), says Dr. R. Ravi Kumar.
The country has undergone rapid epidemiological and demographic transitions in the last 2 decades. As a result, the burden of heart failure in India has increased by nearly 140% from 1990 to 2013. “With increasing lifestyle deviation, spiking stress, salt, sugar, fat consumption, and air pollution, its catchment area is ominously increasing, taking even youngsters in its grip. The mean age of heart failure patients in India is 59 years, which is approximately 10 years younger than patients in the US and Europe,” says Dr. Ravi Kumar.
Youngsters need to recognise the symptoms of heart failure to preempt it, the doctor says.
While the disease cannot be prevented, avoiding the development of the risk factors can help prevent the development of heart failure.
While there is no single cause of heart failure, a prior heart attack, history of heart disease, coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle caused due to infection or drug or alcohol abuse), lung disease, diabetes, obesity and family history of heart diseases play a big role in developing heart failure, the doctor says. He advises youngsters to exercise regularly, quit smoking and eat healthy to avoid chronic illnesses like CVDs.