Heart diseases, along with chronic conditions like heart failure, have become increasingly common, even among youngsters. Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in cases of heart ailments. As such, it becomes crucial to be aware of several misconceptions about heart failure to be able to manage the condition well, according to Dr Jamshed Dalal, Director, Cardiac Sciences, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai.
“For one, it is not the same as a heart attack. Heart failure refers to the heart’s inability to pump enough blood efficiently to meet the body’s needs. Another type of heart failure is when the heart muscle becomes stiff and is unable to relax leading to similar symptoms and clinical features. By contrast, a heart attack occurs when there is a blockage of blood supply to the heart,” he explained.
The expert went on to bust some other common myths about heart failure.
Myth: Heart failure only affects the elderly
Fact: “Although heart failure is more common amongst individuals aged 55 years and older, the disease is increasingly affecting the younger population as well,” Dr Dalal told indianexpress.com.
Myth: Heart failure is extremely sudden and has no warning signs.
Fact: There are, in fact, a number of signs and symptoms associated with heart failure and some of these include breathlessness occurring during various different activities, such as when one is exercising, and in later stages, even when lying in bed, swelling (most commonly seen in the ankles and bloating in the abdomen), fatigue and loss of appetite. “Acute heart failure can present suddenly, usually precipitated by certain factors,” he added.
Myth: Heart failure cannot be managed.
Fact: The expert said, “Patients often think heart failure is the ‘end of life’ and cannot be managed. This is not true as there are effective treatment options (typically a combination including lifestyle interventions, medications and mechanical devices). In the last stages, heart transplantation remains an option as well. Recently, many new medicines have been introduced which improve heart failure and prolong survival.”
Despite being a serious condition, heart failure can be managed with the right treatment and regular cardiologist consultations, Dr Dalal said. “With regular compliance to treatment and healthy lifestyle modifications, patients can lead healthier, happier and longer lives.”