THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Although a growing number of Americans now struggle with heart failure, experts say new treatments have dramatically improved both quality of life and life expectancy for these patients.
"The present environment for heart failure is substantially improved, and the future holds promises that will truly remove the term 'failure' from the description of this illness," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center in Los Angeles and co-director of the Preventive Cardiology Program at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.
Dr. Clyde Yancy, past president of the American Heart Association and chief of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, seconded that notion, pointing to what he sees as "the edge of a new dawn" in which advances in treatment will enable clinicians to "take the heft, the drama and the 'failure' out of heart failure."
To raise public awareness, the American Heart Association has deemed this week National Heart Failure Awareness Week.
A little understood medical condition, the symptoms of heart failure include extreme fatigue, weakness and/or shortness of breath, as years of poor nutrition, inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excessive weight and related health complications, such as diabetes, take a cumulative toll on an ever-weakening heart.
In turn, the heart muscle strains, and ultimately fails, to carry out its continuous duty of pumping blood (and the oxygen it carries) throughout the body. This makes everyday acts such as walking or climbing stairs a major effort for patients. Heart failure is now estimated to affect 6 million men and women in the United States.
"Anybody in the population over the age of 40 has a 20 percent chance of developing heart failure, regardless of your medical history," Yancy said. "Which means, in short, that all of
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