What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition, affecting around 26 million people worldwide - however few people fully understand heart failure.

Heart failure can develop at any age but becomes more common with increasing age. Less than 1% of people under 65 years of age have heart failure, but this can increase to more than 5% in people over the age of 75 years.

In most cases, heart failure does not have a single cause - there are a number of conditions that may damage your heart and that could lead you to be diagnosed with heart failure.

Heart Failure

Watch your symptoms closely and take them seriously. If your symptoms change or get worse, do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Go to the nearest hospital or come to the Emergency Department of IJN.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent coughing or wheezing which may get worse at night.
  • Swollen ankles, legs and/or belly
  • Weight gain of 1.5 to 2 kg within 1 to 2 days
  • Pink blood stained sputum
  • Tired and weak, unable to do your normal things
  • Fast heart rate or heavy heart beats (pounding heartbeat)
  • Loss of appetite and/or nausea
  • Chest pain
If there is suspicion of Heart Failure from the symptoms and physical examination, additional tests may be helpful. These include ECG, blood tests, chest X-ray and echocardiogram. These tests may not need be repeated for subsequent visits. Other specialized tests may be useful to find out more about Heart Failure or its cause.

Medications play a key role in treating heart failure. Research shows that heart failure medications help you:

  • Live longer
  • Have more energy
  • Stabilize your heart function
  • Increase your activity level
  • Have fewer symptoms
  • Have less swelling
  • Breathe more easily
  • Stay out of hospital

Most people with heart failure require several medications for the best results and a multi-drug treatment regimen is a STANDARD of care for heart failure. Some medications help to control symptoms caused by water retention while others help to slow down the progression of heart failure. Your doctor will increase the dose of your medication even if you feel better after starting them as most heart failure medications work best at certain doses.

Heart failure medications not only make you feel better in the short run, but also treat the underlying disease and improve your health in the long run. Proper medication intake for heart failure results in lower hospitalization rates and reduction in medical costs due to re-hospitalization. Therefore, it is important to take all your medications even if you are feeling better. With the right treatment, you can live comfortably with heart failure.

Main medications in heart failure:

  • ACE inhibitor
  • Angiotensin II receptor blocker
  • Beta-blocker
  • Diuretic
  • Digoxin

Other commonly prescribed medications for your heart condition:

  • Nitrate
  • Ivabradine
  • Potassium chloride
  • Antiplatelet
  • Anticoagulant
  • Anti-arrhythmic
  • Statin & fibrate
  • Heart failure is a chronic condition that tend to gradually worsen with time. It can shorten a patient’s life. In many cases, it remains stable for some time (months to years) if patients are taking treatment properly.

    Careful treatment and lifestyle changes can improve symptoms and prolong life.

    1) Heart failure is heart attack.

    • Heart attack happens when the blood supply to your heart is cut off/ occluded due to plaque or blood clot.
    • Heart failure is when your heat isn’t pumping as well as it should to meet the body needs.
    • Heart attack can be one of the cause of heart failure but they are not the same condition.

    2) Heart failure means your heart will stop working.

    • Heart failure doesn’t mean your heart isn’t working or has stop functioning. It simply means that your heart us not pumping as strong as it should.

    3) Heart failure can’t be treated.

    • Heart failure CAN be treated with drugs, implanted devices and surgery. Diet and lifestyle changes are essential in the part of heart failure care.

    4) Heart failure is a disease of the elderly.

    • Heart failure is not exclusively a disease of the elderly. It is more common in people over 65.

    5) Heart failure only get worse with time.

    • Heart failure is a progressive condition but with treatment, diet and lifestyle changes- many heart failure patients can lead a good quality of life. The treatments can reduce symptoms and delay the progression of heart failure.

    6) You should stop exercise once you have heart failure.

    • It is very crucial for heart failure patient to exercise. The right amount & type of exercise can help to improve symptoms. Talk to your doctor to enroll in exercise program that fits your condition and fitness level.