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World Heart Day 2022: Just like an engine in a car, the heart works continuously to maintain our body functions. But with age, the heart cannot pump adequate blood per the body's needs, which may slowly lead to heart failure. Therefore, Heart failure is a condition wherein the heart can't keep up with its workload. Heart-related diseases are the single most common cause of death in patients over 65, and early detection can help. In addition, age-related changes are often seen in the elderly heart due to various underlying problems like hypertension, diabetes and increased thickness of the heart. Dr Sudheer Saxena, Senior Director & HOD, Department of Cardiology, Max Superspecialty Hospital, explains everything about elderly heart failure.
There are no specific symptoms of elderly heart failure; most old patients go undiagnosed, and when they present to the hospital, it is too late for any interventions. However, fatigue, shortness of breath, and swollen legs are the most common symptoms which may be due to heart failure. Sometimes there might be breathing difficulties due to the fluid inside the lungs; in such cases propping up with extra pillows to breathe more easily.
Anyone above 65 should visit their doctors for routine check-ups and undergo a mandatory heart examination to assess its function. This will not only allow an early diagnosis of heart conditions but also will help to take measures to prevent cardiovascular death. In addition, it is essential to know that irrespective of age simple steps like avoidance of smoking, promotion of physical activity, control of blood pressure, control of diabetes, prevention of obesity, and a healthy diet will improve cardiac health.
With exciting breakthrough treatment modalities and medications, heart failure is no longer a disease to be afraid of. Treatment under the supervision of an experienced cardiologist is the key to enhancing the quality of life. Lifestyle changes like a healthy diet (fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, beans, and legumes), a salt-restricted diet, stopping smoking and optimal exercise form the base of all treatments for heart failure. Studies have shown that optimum exercise improves lung function and relieves stress and anxiety. It's a matter of stretching out every day, so the muscles and joints are loose and flexible.
Timely medications and efforts from dear ones have worked miracles in the elderly. However, for emotional and safety reasons, companionship is necessary to avoid isolation and depression associated with the disease. Soon we will have access to small devices implanted into a person's body without needing surgery. This will let doctors see in real-time how the heart is functioning and start treatment accordingly.
Heart failure mortality increases with old age, and it is essential that time visits to the doctor and supervised medication along with companionship can enhance the quality of life.
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