Heart failure conjures up a plethora of images and thoughts in our minds. But what exactly is heart failure? Like a lot of other things, people hold various myths about the condition – views that are quite not true about heart failure. Our aim is to dispel the myths surrounding heart failure and show you what it is exactly. After all, knowing the fact is of utmost importance as that is a surefire way to empower ourselves.
Myth 1: Oh, I’ve been diagnosed with heart failure. My heart doesn’t work anymore and soon it will even stop beating.
Fact: Your heart, as you may already know, is a muscle. To be diagnosed with heart failure means that the organ has become weak and its ability to pump blood in and out of your heart has deteriorated.
Myth 2: Heart failure is an untreatable condition.
Fact: There are different ways to treat heart failure – ranging from medication to surgery. Medication along with a proper diet can make your heart stronger. Surgery can get rid of clogging in the arteries. If a valve is beyond repair, it can be replaced. Heart pumps can also make your heart stronger and better.
Myth 3: There’s no way an individual can know whether they have heart failure.
Fact: Heart failure often has telltale early signs and symptoms. Fatigue for no reason is one of them. Other signs include feeling out of breath, coughing, or wheezing when lying down. Feeling nauseous, swelling in the ankles or legs and weight gain due to fluid buildup are also signs of heart failure.
Myth 4: There’s no way one can be in the preventive mode when it comes to heart failure.
Fact: You can lower your chances of getting a heart failure by being more active physically, cutting down on alcohol, stopping smoking, and managing certain lifestyle conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. If you’re under a lot of stress, find ways to de-stress.
Myth 5: Once you’re diagnosed with heart failure, you can’t get back to ‘normalcy’.
Fact: With proper diet and healthy habits – exercising in moderation and regularity, for instance, you can lead a happy and healthy life even after being diagnosed with heart failure.
Myth 6: Heart failure signals ‘the end’.
Fact: With advancements in healthcare as a whole and cardiac sciences, in particular, you stand a good chance to lead a normal and happy life enjoying just about everything you’ve been enjoying.
Myth 7: Heart failure affects the elderly, youngsters don’t have to worry.
Fact: Heart failure can be diagnosed in people of all ages. At present, more and more people who are in their 60s and even 70s are prone to the condition owing to various factors including changes in lifestyle and constantly being stressed.
Myth 8: Heart failure and heart attack are the same.
Fact: They are two different things. A heart attack is a sudden, unexpected condition in which arteries supplying blood to the heart are blocked. A heart failure, on the other hand, is a chronic condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s requirements.
Remember, heart failure is a condition that requires immediate attention. With proper medication, lifestyle changes and, if necessary, intervention.
Dr. Nagamalesh U M, Senior Consultant – Cardiology – Adult, Heart Transplant, M S Ramaiah Narayana Heart Centre, M S Ramaiah Nagar