Saving patients with myocardial infarction from imminent death with modern methods does not make patients healthy. Acute heart attacks are often replaced by heart failure because a heart full of blood is unable to function as a pump.
The number of such diseases has increased dramatically in recent years. In total, there are about 5 million people with heart failure in the United States, one million of whom are under the age of 60. Up to 400 thousand new cases are diagnosed annually, and 800 thousand patients need hospitalization.
However, heart attacks are not the only cause of heart failure. The same condition is caused by persistent increase of blood pressure, heart valve damage, blockage of blood vessels, diabetes, alcoholism, chronic lung diseases leading to emphysema.
Heart weakness can occur against the background of the use of chemicals in the treatment of malignant diseases, as well as acute and chronic infectious processes. According to experts of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the diagnosis of “heart failure” & may be more ominous than the diagnosis of “cancer”.
Approximately half of patients with heart failure die within the first 5 years of diagnosis, and 20% within a year.
Many of the risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease are the result of an incorrect lifestyle and can be reduced or eliminated. It has been established that up to 60% of deaths due to heart disease are caused by the following risk factors:
- Smoking. Smokers have a heart attack (heart attack, angina) twice as often as non-smokers. Even smokers with a long history of smoking cessation significantly reduces the risk.
- A sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity, along with proper nutrition, is a necessary means of preventing cardiovascular disease. The number and type of exercises is selected individually, but the standard for a healthy person is fast walking for 30 minutes 4-5 times a week.
- Increased cholesterol levels. A 1% increase (from 200 to 202 mg/dl) increases the risk of heart attack by 2-3%. Proper nutrition and, if necessary, medication treatment, as recommended by the attending physician, can reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood and thus significantly reduce the risk of heart artery damage.
- Hypertension. 50 million people aged 60 years and over have high blood pressure, which is 25% of the adult population in the United States. If the pressure rises above 140/90 mm Hg, the likelihood of death from heart and vascular disease doubles. Hypertension is often asymptomatic, and doctors recommend that blood pressure be measured periodically and that medication be administered under medical supervision when it is increased.
- Diabetes. Heart failure in diabetic patients is three times more common than in non-diabetic patients, leading to death. Normalization of blood sugar levels (on an empty stomach no more than 126 mg/dl) through diet, lifestyle changes, medication treatment – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Alcohol. Moderate alcohol consumption has been reported to reduce the risk of heart disease from 20 to 40%, but excessive consumption has a negative impact on both the heart and health, including liver failure and a number of tumors.
- Obesity. A 20% increase in weight above the standard doubles the risk of heart disease. The most dangerous is the accumulation of fat in the abdomen.
In addition to the risk factors that can be influenced, there are some that need to be considered, but they cannot be changed:
- Paul. Up to 50 years of age, men have a significantly higher risk of heart disease than women. Then the probability of development is equalized.
- Age. Heart attacks are rare in people under 40 years of age, but in men from 45 years of age, and in women from 65 years of age – heart disease becomes the leading cause of death.
- Coronary heart disease in parents, grandparents and grandparents significantly increases the likelihood of developing the disease in their offspring.
The most effective way to combat heart failure is by early detection. Let’s list the first signs of heart failure:
- Dyspnea when walking or climbing stairs,
- dyspnea in the lying position,
- waking up at night from a lack of air,
- a constant feeling of fatigue and weakness,
- Swelling of the legs (usually in the ankle region),
- superficial cervical vein dilation,
- Fast weight gain (0.5-1 kg per day) within 3-5 days,
- a long cough without inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.
In addition to standard methods of examination, the following advanced diagnostic methods are used to diagnose heart failure:
- Echocardiography (Sonography) – obtaining an image of the heart using ultrasound waves.
- Radioisotope examination of the heart provides an image of the heart by intravenous administration of radioisotopes. A test can be used to determine whether the heart is leaking enough blood. For this purpose, very low doses of radioactive substances are used, the passage of which through the heart is recorded by a meter. This procedure is safe because the radioactive substance is completely removed from the body.
- Cauterization of heart vessels for special indications.
- Early diagnosis and treatment of heart disease prevents its potential unfavorable development, and standard medications are quite effective. The following groups of drugs are most often used to treat heart failure:
- Diuretics (diuretics). These drugs increase fluid excretion from the body, facilitating the pumping function of the heart, and reducing fluid stagnation in the lungs improves breathing and leads to the disappearance of dyspnea.
- ACE inhibitors. Medicines reduce water and salt retention in tissues, prevent the enlargement of the heart muscle, help dilate blood vessels, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow in the vessels. A group of Danish doctors prescribed 2,000 patients with heart failure after a heart attack with ACE-inhibitors (zestrial and inoculated) for two years.
- The control group received a placebo (pacifier). Patient follow-up continued for six years. Researchers concluded that life expectancy for ACE inhibitors was at least 25 percent longer.
- Beta-blockers. Helps reduce pressure and also prevents heart rhythm problems. Combined use of ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers is particularly effective.
- Digitalis (digoxin). It enhances the contractility of the heart muscle and helps the heart work more effectively. It is necessary to visit the doctor more often and get acquainted with the side effects of the drug.
Among the modern surgical methods of treating heart failure is a radical heart transplant, which has been performed for several decades. However, surgery is limited by the number of donor hearts: many do not survive to the point where a donor is found.
And surgery is not always justified. For the treatment of heart failure, heart valve surgeries are used, and heart aneurysms with severe heart failure are surgically treated.