Side effects may include headaches
Sometimes, heart failure is life–threatening. Usually, this happens when Drug Therapy and lifestyle changes fail to control its symptoms. In such cases, a Heart Transplant may be the only treatment option. However, candidates for Transplantation often have to wait months or even years before a suitable donor heart is found. Recent studies indicate that some Transplant candidates improve during this waiting period through drug treatment and other therapy, and can be removed from the transplant list.
Transplant candidates who do not improve sometimes need mechanical pumps, which are attached to the heart. Called Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs), the machines take over part or virtually all of the heart’s blood–pumping activity. However, current LVADs are not permanent solutions for heart failure but are considered bridges to transplantation. An experimental surgical procedure for severe heart failure is available at a few U.S. Medical Centres. The procedure, called Cardiomyoplasty, involves detaching one end of a muscle in the back, wrapping it around the heart, and then suturing the muscle to the heart. An implanted electric stimulator causes the back muscle to contract, pumping blood from the heart.
A person can live with Heart Failure too
Heart failure is one of the most serious symptoms of heart disease. About half of all patients die within 5 years of diagnosis. However, half live beyond 5 years, many well into old age. The outlook for an individual patient depends on the patient’s age, severity of heart failure, overall health, and a number of other factors.
As Heart Failure progresses, the effects can become quite severe, and patients often lose the ability to perform even modest physical activity. Eventually, the heart’s reduced pumping capacity may interfere with routine functions, and patients may become unable to care for themselves. The loss in functional ability can occur quickly if the heart is further weakened by Heart attacks or the worsening of other conditions that affect heart failure, such as Diabetes and Coronary heart disease. Heart failure patients also have an increased risk of sudden death, or Cardiac arrest, caused by an irregular heartbeat.
To improve the chances of surviving with heart failure, patients must take care of themselves. Patients must:
- See their physician regularly.
- Closely follow all of their physician’s instructions.
- Take any medication according to instructions and,
- Immediately inform their physician of any significant change in their condition, such as an intensified shortness of breath or swollen feet.
Patients with Heart Failure also should
- Control their weight.
- See what they eat.
- Not smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products.
- Abstain from or strictly limit alcohol consumption.
Even with the best care, heart failure can worsen, but patients who don’t take care of themselves are almost writing themselves a prescription for poor health. The best defense against heart failure is the prevention of heart disease. Almost all of the major coronary risk factors can be controlled or eliminated: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.