Just the name “heart failure” sounds terribly frightening, but that’s because it is. Heart failure in its many forms contributes to roughly 287,000 deaths each year, and it accounts for more hospitalizations than all forms of cancer combined. In very basic terms, heart failure occurs when the heart simply isn’t pumping as effectively as it should and is struggling to supply the body with the blood flow it needs to survive. While heart failure can progress to a fatal point, most cases can be effectively treated with early intervention, and even more cases can be avoided altogether when patients recognize their own risk factors and take preventative measures.
Most Common Risk Factors for Heart Failure
While there may be no way to determine with one-hundred percent certainty who will develop heart failure, we can venture a highly educated guess with incredible accuracy by taking into account the following risk factors:
- Previous heart attack
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
- Cardiomyopathy, or enlargement of the heart
- Abnormality within the heart valves
- Family history
- Being overweight
If you meet any of these, there is a higher than average likelihood that you will eventually among the 1 in 5 Americans who suffer from heart failure.
Taking Steps to Prevent Heart Failure
Although recognizing that you are at risk for heart failure may feel scary, there is a silver lining. For most patients, counteracting these risk factors with a healthy, medically-sound treatment plan can help keep the heart safe. While every patient is different, common steps that a cardiologist may recommend include:
- Eating a heart healthy diet that focuses on lean meats and proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy sources of fat
- Avoiding non-healthy dietary choices such as overly processed and prepackaged foods, excess salt, sugar, and alcohol
- Avoid / quit all tobacco use
- Keep stress to a minimum and practice calming habits such as meditation or prayer
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly
Treating Heart Failure in South Louisiana
If you are at high-risk for heart failure, have a separate heart condition, or are simply concerned about maintaining optimal heart health, the physicians at Cardiovascular Institute of the South can help. To request an appointment with one of them at any of our many locations, simply click the button below to get started.