Are You At Risk For Heart Failure?

A long, happy life is something we all desire. And a major indicator of the length and happiness of our life is our health. Even more specific is the health of our heart. The heart is the most crucial part of our body’s internal system. Our brain, lungs, and muscles are all dependent upon the heart. If our heart fails, everything else begins to shut down. If we want a long, happy life, it’s time to start taking care of our hearts.

What Happens When The Heart Fails?

Heart failure doesn’t mean that the heart instantly stops working. Heart failure occurs when the heart becomes weak and fails to pump blood and oxygen to the rest of the body. A healthy heart is a strong muscular pump, about the size of a fist, made up of four chambers. These chambers beat rhythmically as they circulate blood throughout the body. Each cell in the body requires a certain amount of nutrient and oxygen-rich blood in order to function properly. The heart must remain strong enough to pump efficiently. When the heart muscle weakens, it does one of three things to compensate for the body’s circulation needs. The heart stretches and enlarges, pumps faster, or increases in muscle mass. While these substitutions may work initially, it is not a viable change. Eventually, the heart cannot keep up and begins to fail at doing its job. 

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has determined that 5.7 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with heart failure. In Mississippi, heart disease is the leading cause of death. Could you be a statistic? 

Who Is At Risk For Heart Failure?

While people over the age of 65 may experience a weakening in the heart muscle, anyone who has been previously diagnosed with a heart defect or heart attack—no matter their age—is also at risk. But here’s the kicker—people who are overweight or have diabetes as a result of weight gain are at risk for heart failure simply because of the strain excess weight puts on the heart. While your age or the state of your heart may be something beyond your control, your weight is something you can control. 

Recently Dr. Ian Neeland, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, conducted a study to determine the link between weight gain and heart failure. Over 1,200 people were monitored during a seven year period; their weight was taken and their heart was evaluated at the beginning and end of the study. While none of the participants showed any signs of heart failure at the beginning of the study, those who had gained weight throughout the seven year period experienced negative effects on their heart. The heart muscle changed shape, enlarged in some areas, showed signs of weakness and functioned less efficiently. Conversely, those who lost weight during the seven year trial period showed a thinner, more productive heart muscle.

What Can You Do? 

Take care of your heart and your health by taking care of your weight. Exercise regularly, substitute foods that are rich in fats for foods that are high in nutrients. If losing weight is difficult, attempt to sustain your current weight and avoid adding a strain on your heart. The best way to prevent your heart from failing and ensuring your heart is happy and healthy is to get a heart screening. Our doctors at TrustCare Heart Clinic care about you and your heart! Schedule an appointment today so that you don’t become a statistic for heart failure.