What you need to know to prevent heart failure

Managing this silent killer
KOTA Territory News at Noon
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 2:12 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The final part of our Febr-u-ary heart health series is on heart failure. Currently, there are about 64 million people worldwide living with this deadly condition. As our final Febr-u-ary heart health series comes to an end, our focus is not only on the prevention of heart failure but how to recognize the symptoms. Throughout this week, I’ve shared recommendations on how you can re-focus your own heart and live a healthier life, from the importance of diet and exercise to how cardiac rehab facilities are saving lives. the final part of the series deals with managing heart failure and how stress is a contributing factor to this condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.2 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure and every 40 seconds an American has a heart attack. South Dakota is one of 20 states with areas that show some of the highest rates of deaths from heart failure. Dr. Luis Hernandez, a cardiologist in Rapid City, says heart failure happens when the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. “Heart failure is a disease where depending on which one you have because there are two types, you can have a weak heart or a normal heart. The heart is not pumping enough to keep to the demands of the oxygen requirements of the body”, says Hernandez.

Although heart failure is critical, it does not mean the heart has stopped beating, says Hernandez. He says, your heart isn’t pumping blood the way it should and there are warnings we shouldn’t ignore. Hernandez adds, “the common signs and symptoms are legs swelling, they will feel short of breath, they will feel fatigued, they will a poor appetite because the same way the fluid will build up in the legs the fluid will build up in the chest and in your guts and they will feel like early anxiety and will feel bloated, a lot of fluid in their lungs and will complain of coughing and when they go to bed they cannot lay flat because they get out of breath”.

According to the American Heart Association, the human heart weighs between 7 and 15 ounces that’s about the size of a fist and while it’s small, it’s the head organ in our anatomy and controls every part of our body beating 100,000 times per day pushing blood through 60,000 miles of vessels. Whether you are at risk or not, Hernandez says small changes can make a big difference in preventing this disease. “Take care of yourself, try to control your weight, weight loss, try to eat healthy, exercise is very important and prevention if you have high blood pressure, diabetes taking care of these things will help to prevent heart failure”, says Hernandez.

Hernandez adds that stress and worrying should be temporary, “knowing you have heart failure is very stressful, unfortunately, a lot of people hear the term heart failure and they are scared and it doesn’t mean their heart is failing. Just the diagnosis is stressful. Heart failure is treatable. I always tell people to avoid stressful situations if you can, it is a disease that doesn’t just affect the patient but everyone around them, if they can join them on visits that would be ideal”.

Hernandez does add that although there’s no cure for heart failure, there are ways to make the disease manageable, “we can treat it so you can have a normal life. There are a lot of different medicines now to treat it we can use. For a weak heart or a normal heart, it’s caused by blockages in the heart. We can use a cardio cath, and stress test, and if we see some blockages then we can fix them”.

American Heart Association recommends laughing as much as you can because they say a healthy heart starts with a happy heart.