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What is heart failure and can it be cured?

"While heart failure cannot be cured completely, it can be managed or treated through various ways depending upon the stage of the disease," says Dr Krishan.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
July 2, 2020 7:10:16 pm
There are various lifestyle conditions which may increase the risk of developing heart failures, such as diabetes and heart attack. (Photo: Getty)

A report by NCBI (The National Centre for Biotechnology Information) states that heart failure affects 26 million people worldwide. Not only that but it is estimated that it will increase by 46 per cent in the coming decade.

With its prevalence increasing more than ever along with high health expenditure and an ageing population, heart failure is not only a severe problem but can also become an economic burden. Dr Kewal Krishan, director of heart transplant & ventricular assist devices, Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Max Heart & Vascular Institute shares with what causes heart failure and if it can be cured. 

Take a look below.

Stem cell, guinea pigs, Thomas Eschenhagen, UKE in Germany, journal Science Translational Medicine, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, latest news, Science news, Science latest news, Science world news, World meidcal news, medical research news, world news medical research Heart damage that accompanies heart failure often leads to a loss of muscle tissue, which is essentially irreversible, because the tissue cannot regenerate itself, researchers said. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

What is heart failure?

Dr Krishan explains, “Heart failure is commonly caused by coronary artery disease, a disorder that narrows the arteries which supply blood and oxygen to the heart.” It occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood as effectively as it should. A chronic condition, it progresses over time if not managed effectively. As a result, it can worsen over time.

“The functioning of the body depends upon the ability of the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to the cells for nourishing them. A disruption in this flow of blood can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath or weakness or in extreme cases, lead to more fatal conditions,” says the doctor.

What is the cause of heart failure and can it be cured?

There are various lifestyle conditions which may increase the risk of developing heart failures, such as diabetes and heart attack. Conditions like congenital heart disease, thyroid and high blood pressure can also contribute to heart failure as well. Certain treatments such as chemotherapy or misuse of a particular drug or alcohol can also make one vulnerable to the disease. 

“While heart failure cannot be cured completely, it can be managed or treated through various ways depending upon the stage of the disease,” says Dr Krishan. As per the New York Heart Association Classification, heart failure has four stages and once a patient has progressed to the next stage, it cannot be reversed. “The treatment comprises medication, lifestyle and diet modifications, a heart surgery, device implantation or a transplant based on the condition of the patient,” adds the doctor. 

What advancements have been made to help people suffering from heart failure? 

With the help of modern science and technology, there have been numerous treatments that have been devised for complex diseases. This stands true for heart failure as well. “In the advanced stages of heart failure, when medications or lifestyle modifications may not work or in cases where surgery may not be possible, solutions like LVAD (left ventricular assist device) is a feasible and safe option for management of the condition,” says Dr Krishan.

The heart has two ventricles, one on the left and another on the right. “Of these, 70-80 per cent of the muscle area is covered in the left ventricle, as it is the largest chamber of the heart. Therefore, complications in the left ventricle can compromise the normal functioning of the heart to a significant extent and cause fatalities,” he mentions.

As explained by the doctor, an LVAD helps the weakened left ventricle to pump blood efficiently. “It is a battery-operated, mechanical pump that is surgically implanted (open-heart surgery) for helping maintain the regular flow of blood,” says Dr Krishan. This also acts as an alternative for patients who are not eligible for a heart transplant. “The survival rate of the LVAD procedure is as good as a transplant and patients can live a healthy life for up to 10 years or even more,” informs Dr Krishan. The silver lining is that LVADs have evolved over the years in terms of technology and have become more affordable and accessible over the course of time.

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