Heart Failure – The silent killer of India
The 29th day of September is celebrated as World Heart Day each year, with the motive to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases. According to the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Country Profiles 2014 released by WHO, NCDs led to an estimated 98.16 lakh deaths in the country and have emerged as an epidemic in India. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) including heart failure are accountable for nearly half of all the deaths caused by NCDs. An estimated 17.7 million people died from CVDs in 2015.
This year, the theme of World Heart Day is ‘Share the Power’, making it an apt occasion to share knowledge, raise awareness around various CVDs and adopt a comprehensive approach to combat heart diseases.
All about Heart Failure
Heart failure is an important global health problem, affecting about 26 million people worldwide, which is associated with high mortality.
Heart failure can be termed as a silent killer as it’s a progressive, debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs of oxygen and nutrients, due to weakening or stiffening of the heart muscle over time.
The symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, tiredness, swelling in the ankles, legs and abdomen, loss of appetite, sudden weight gain, rapid heartbeat, confusion or dizziness and frequent urination.
Heart Failure in India
The disease burden of heart failure in India is 5.4 million.
A recent International Congestive Heart Failure (INTER-CHF) study, highlighted that the mortality rates in heart failure patients after one year of diagnosis are as high as 23% in India. The study also highlighted that heart failure patients in India are approximately 10 years younger than patients in US and Europe. The mean age of heart failure patients in India is 59 years .
The marked variation in mortality is attributed to low awareness, economic disparity, ease of access to high quality healthcare facilities, environmental and genetic factors.
Diagnosis of Heart Failure
Heart failure is diagnosed through a detailed analysis of medical history and clinical examination. Blood tests help examine function of kidney, liver and heart. Electrocardiogram (ECG) help measure the electrical activity or beating of your heart. An echocardiogram, an ultrasound test is generally conducted to inspect the size of the heart, its pumping efficiency and the condition of the valves.
Treatment of Heart Failure
Heart failure is treated through a combination of medicines. Until recently, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers, in addition to beta-blockers and diuretics were being used to treat heart failure. Lifestyle modifications are also suggested, including behavioral and dietary changes, physical activity, and daily symptom tracking.
The burden of heart failure is snowballing globally and there is an urgent need to raise awareness about the condition that is often used interchangeably with Heart Attack, or seen as an aftermath of the latter. Timely diagnosis of the condition and lifestyle modifications coupled with advanced treatment management protocols are needed to curb its growing incidence reducing the associated hospitalization, morbidity, mortality and improve patients’ quality of life.