Is heart failure the same as heart attack? No, says Dr R Ravi Kumar, a cardiologist at Chennai-based MGM Hospital. “One of the most common myths amongst patients and caregivers is that heart failure and heart attack are same medical conditions. As a matter of fact, heart attack is one of the major risk factors for heart failure as one out of every four people who suffer a heart attack eventually develop heart failure within four years,” he explains.
Another misconception is that heart failure means the heart has stopped functioning. “What heart failure means is that the heart will have to work harder than it used to,” he says.
Heart attack can be explained as a sudden cardiac event that has a direct effect on the basic functioning of the heart. The damage caused by a heart attack can mean that the heart will never be able to pump as effectively as it did earlier, leading to heart failure. Heart failure on the other hand, is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart gradually weakens over time and can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It is a serious condition that requires medical care and treatment.
“With one out of three heart failure patients dying within one year of diagnosis, the death rates are comparable to cancer. Therefore, it brings an urgent need to address the disease burden by raising mass awareness about the effective management through regular check of symptoms, risk factors and importance of early diagnosis and timely treatment,” he says.
Understanding heart failure
Who does it happen to: Usually to the elderly, above 60 years of age. Though, in India, there is a rising incidence in the younger population around 40 to 50 years of age.
Symptoms: While, Heart Failure is a progressive disease, it can be managed if diagnosis and treated in a timely manner. Some common symptoms that shouldn’t be confused with signs of old age or any other co-morbid disease, are shortness of breath, constant fatigue, swelling in the ankles, legs and abdomen, loss of appetite, sudden weight increase and rapid heartbeat.
Prevention: The only way to prevent heart failure is by managing the various risk factors. Follow a balanced and healthy diet, reduce salt intake, stop smoking and alcohol abuse, exercise regularly and sleep well.https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/heart-failure-and-heart-attack-can-you-tell-the-difference/articleshow/89268733.cms