What is congestive heart failure?
Congestive heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart's pumping action is compromised. In the early stages, heart failure may not have any symptoms. In the later stages, you may have severe symptoms because your weakened heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood with each contraction to satisfy the body. These symptoms may include shortness of breath, or dyspnea, that initially occurs only during exercise, and later even while at rest.
How common is congestive heart failure?
According to the American Heart Association, heart failure affects about 5 million Americans, with more than half a million new cases diagnosed every year. Interestingly, while the incidence of other cardiac diseases remains stable or varies only slightly, the incidence of heart failure has increased significantly over the last three decades. This is because of the aging population and doctors' increased ability to treat other cardiac diseases. In the 1970s, high blood pressure was the leading cause of heart failure. Today, because of the increased survival due to treatments such as bypass surgery and balloon angioplasty, coronary artery disease is the leading cause of the condition.
How dangerous is congestive heart failure?
It is a very serious condition. According to statistics from the American Heart Association, there are about 5 million heart failure patients in the United States, and 550,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed in the United States every year. This includes 10 out of every 1,000 people over the age of 65. Of newly diagnosed patients under the age of 65, about 80 percent of the men and 70 percent of the women will die within eight years. In people diagnosed with heart failure, sudden cardiac death occurs at six to nine times the rate of the general population. The earlier the condition is diagnosed and treatment begins, the better your prospects for an improved quality of life down the road.