South Denver Cardiology Celebrates Heart Failure Awareness Week
February 12-18 is Heart Failure Awareness Week. This occasion is sponsored by the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) to promote heart awareness, patient education and heart failure prevention practices. The organization has created a variety of activities to be held all week in order to disseminate information and raise support for this important cause.
At South Denver Cardiology Associates, we’re proud to support the HFSA and participate in Heart Failure Awareness Week. To educate our community on the risk factors for heart failure and what you can do to prevent this dangerous condition, we’re providing the following informational blog post.
What Is Heart Failure?
The term “heart failure” is actually a bit of a misnomer. While the word “failure” may lead some to believe the heart can no longer work at all, this is not the case. Heart failure refers to a condition where the heart isn’t able to pump well enough to keep up with its workload and as a result, your body may not be able to receive sufficient levels of oxygen.
When your heart’s pumping action isn’t able to deliver enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the rest of your cells and organs, these areas of your body won’t be properly nourished, and they may struggle to function normally. This often results in symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue. In addition, everyday activities such as walking, carrying bags of groceries or climbing stairs may be challenging.
Currently, there’s no cure for heart failure. While it’s a serious condition, you can still lead a normal life when the condition is managed properly.
Risk Factors of Heart Failure
Age is perhaps the greatest risk factor of heart failure. Everyone’s blood pumping ability diminishes somewhat as we get older, but age alone isn’t enough to cause heart failure. The condition occurs as a result of health issues that either damage the heart or force it to work too hard.
For this reason, common lifestyle factors that increase your risk of other heart-related conditions such as heart attack and stroke may also increase your risk of heart failure. These include obesity, smoking, eating a diet high in cholesterol and fat, and lack of physical activity.
However, heart failure is more likely to occur after developing a medical condition placing excess wear and tear on the heart than from the lifestyle factors mentioned above. Some of the health issues which may significantly increase your risk of heart failure include:
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Abnormal heart valves
- Congenital heart defects
- Severe lung disease
- Sleep apnea
Preventing Heart Failure
The best way to prevent heart failure is to make heart healthy lifestyle adjustments that will minimize your risk of the conditions which may damage your heart. These include:
- Exercise regularly – Getting at least two and a half hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise will help improve your cardiovascular health. It’s never too late to prioritize fitness. Even middle-aged individuals who are out of shape can reduce their risk of heart failure by starting to exercise.
- Minimize your time sitting – While exercising is important, its benefits can be somewhat negated by sitting for too many hours a day. Look for ways to get up and move around even when you’re not exercising.
- Manage health conditions which damage your heart – Any condition which damages your heart and/or forces it to work harder may increase your risk of heart failure. Therefore, it’s critical to take the steps to treat these conditions. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other condition that impacts your heart, take all medications as directed and follow your doctor’s recommended lifestyle adjustments to ensure these conditions remain under control.
- Avoid using illegal drugs – Drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines, ecstasy and heroin can damage your heart. This is true even when you only use them occasionally. These drugs can raise your blood pressure and elevate your heart rate, which can increase your risk of heart failure.
- Limit alcohol consumption – Excessive drinking can negatively impact your heart health. Limit alcohol consumption to two drinks a day for men and one drink for women.
- Eat a healthy diet – Eating a diet packed with fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein is good for your heart health. Limit foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, salt and sugar.
- Manage stress – Stress can cause your blood pressure to rise. This will force your heart to work harder, increasing your risk of heart failure.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Maintaining a healthy weight will help prevent heart failure. In particular, make sure to avoid excess belly fat since this increases your risk of heart disease more than excess fat in other areas of the body. You should shoot for a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 to ensure you maintain a healthy weight.
South Denver Cardiology Can Help You Maintain Proper Heart Health
At South Denver Cardiology Associates, we offer a wide range of services to help you maintain a heart healthy lifestyle. These include:
- Diagnostic testing to identify heart conditions in their earliest stages
- Clinical cardiology services ranging from basic preventive care to life-saving interventions
- Weight loss clinic to help you reach and maintain a heart healthy weight
- Nutritional counseling to help you establish a heart healthy diet
- Medical fitness gym to help you develop a heart healthy fitness routine
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.Sign Up