Signs of Heart Failure
Heart “failure” is a condition that costs Americans more than $30 billion each year. It affects more than 5 million Americans, mostly older adults.
Heart failure (sometimes called congestive heart failure) occurs when the heart is weakened and cannot pump enough blood for the body’s needs. This can be caused by other existing heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease. Also, other health ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure and certain lifestyle factors.
Although doctors offer a range of treatments for heart failure, many seniors assume the symptoms are “just signs of old age.” This assumption can prevent them from receiving a prompt diagnosis and getting proper medical treatment.
It’s important to be alert for the symptoms of heart failure, which include:
— Shortness of breath.
— Difficulty breathing when lying down.
— Swelling of feet, ankles and abdomen.
— Coughing and raspy breathing.
Any of these symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor. If the diagnosis is heart failure, treatment may include surgery, medications and careful management of underlying health conditions. Your physician will most likely recommend self-monitoring and lifestyle changes. Think about eating a heart-healthy diet, managing sodium and fluid intake, avoiding smoking and alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, and following an appropriate exercise routine.
Today, many heart failure patients are referred to cardiac rehabilitation. This provides a medically supervised program that includes exercise training, lifestyle education, counseling, and assistance with managing the patient’s medical routine. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that cardiac rehabilitation increases both the length and quality of patients’ lives, as well as reduces depression and hospitalizations. Medicare and Medicaid recently began covering cardiac rehabilitation for certain patients with heart failure, and the AHA has recommended that this coverage be expanded.
The challenges of heart failure make it harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This, in turn, can worsen heart failure. In-home care helps elderly stay on track with their health management routine—and provides peace of mind for families.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164