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Is heart failure serious?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Heart failure is a serious condition, affecting more than 5.7 million people in the United States. Of this number, there are 300,000 deaths each year. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weakened or damaged by an underlying condition, like coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or obesity. The weakened heart cannot pump blood to the body effectively. The best treatment for heart failure is to control the underlying factors that increase heart failure risk. This may include medication and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.

Linda Rohyans
Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

Heart failure is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on your life, as well as the lives of your loved ones and friends. Because of the chronic nature of heart failure, once you have received heart failure as a diagnosis, the condition is such, that you will "go to bed with it" and you will "wake up with it" for the rest of your life. The good news is, the symptoms of heart failure are managable. Yes, heart failure is serious, so you must become serious in your thoughts and actions in dealing with it! Excellent medications are available that will help control your blood pressure and heart rate; they must be taken religiously. Sticking to a low-salt diet is crucial; this means you'll need to pay special attention to labels and become an informed consumer. Knowing your weight every single day will help put you in more control; you'll know very quickly when you are gaining extra fluid or water weight. Your doctors, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist and nurses are all there to support and guide you as you become part of the team. It is important to ask questions, lean on their expertise and let them know when something is bothering you, even when you think it is something very minor.

Learn as much as you can about all the conditions you have, especially heart failure. The more knowledge you have, the more "in control" you will feel. Knowledge is power; confidence will come from this acquired knowledge. You are not alone in dealing with this challenging condition; nearly 6 million Americans are learning to manage their symptoms—just like you. Ask your healthcare team about support groups in your area. Surround yourself with things you are passionate about in life; try to see as many of the positives in a negative situation as you are able. Rejoice in your successes and achieved goals; every one of them is important. Take your heart failure seriously; and also, take heart!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.