MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and the Heart Failure Society of America will be celebrating 2019 Heart Failure Awareness Week Feb. 10-16 by encouraging you to “Do Your Part, Know Your Heart.”
“During this week and all year long, we want to encourage everyone, especially older adults, to get regular checkups, learn the signs and symptoms of heart failure, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, and get regular screenings,” George Sokos, D.O., director of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute Center for Advanced Heart Failure and Mechanical Cardiology Support, said. “When we diagnose heart failure in its early stages, we can help make living with it less of a challenge and equip our patients with the tools they need to take control of their heart health.”
Heart failure – a progressive condition in which the heart muscle weakens and gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs – is very common but under recognized.
The symptoms of heart failure, which result from extra fluid or congestion, may be subtle and are often mistaken for normal signs of aging. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Breathing and other respiratory difficulties
- Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, and/or abdomen
- Fatigue and tiring easily
- Increased need to urinate at night
- Lack of appetite and nausea
- Cold legs and arms
- Difficulty concentrating
Risk of heart failure increases dramatically after age 65. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart defects at birth, diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, and severe lung disease.
Heart failure affects more than 5 million Americans, and as more people are surviving heart attacks but being left with weakened hearts, heart failure is the only major cardiovascular disease on the rise. An estimated 400,000 to 700,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year and the number of deaths in the U.S. from this condition has more than doubled since 1979, averaging 250,000 annually.
In comparison, the death rate from coronary heart disease has dropped by 49 percent over a similar period. An estimated $8-15 billion is spent each year on the costs of hospitalization due to heart failure, which is twice the amount spent for all forms of cancer.
While there is currently no known cure for heart failure, recent scientific advances in treatment offer patients a more normal life expectancy.
Those who are at risk of heart failure but are not already under the care of a cardiologist can schedule an appointment at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute by calling 855-WVU-CARE.
For more information on the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Heart.