30 July 2007

Who is at risk of heart disease

Nearly five million Americans have chronic Heart Failure, with 550,000 new cases occurring each year. Heart failure results in almost 1 million hospital admissions each year and is the most common diagnosis among patients between the ages of 55 to 65 years discharged from hospitals.

Forty four percent of patients with HF have diabetes, 30% have kidney problems, 52% are women, and atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) accounts for approximately 31% of heart failure patients. These numbers are expected to continue to increase as the population of elderly Americans rises.

What are the symptoms?

Due to the complexity of trying to determine whether or not a symptom is caused by the inadequate “forward flow” of blood or the “backward buildup” of blood, the following list of symptoms are all attributed to heart failure.

Common symptoms include:

  • Exercise intolerance (diminished ability to perform physical tasks)
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Nocturia (having to go to the bathroom frequently during the night)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Mental status change such as confusion
  • Shortness of breath (that may even occur at rest)
  • Cool or pale extremities (legs, feet, hands, fingers)
  • Edema (or swelling), particularly in the lower legs, ankles, and feet
  • Chest pain



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