Heart Failure Risks: Expecting the Unexpected

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For the average person, detecting the signs of heart failure can be tricky, especially since people can look fairly healthy and have few symptoms. We asked Christopher Rowan, M.D., of the Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health, to answer our most pressing questions about heart failure.

Even with more technology in medicine and a greater awareness about health today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still reports that one in every four U.S. deaths is caused by heart disease. The real tragedy of heart-related deaths is that they are both common and preventable.

“Heart failure can have many forms that are seen in anyone at any age,” says Christopher Rowan, M.D., with Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health. “As many forms as it has, it can also have as many causes. Although the symptoms of heart failure are numerous, people can look mostly healthy and have relatively few symptoms.” 

Understanding Heart Failure Risks

We sat down with Dr. Rowan to ask some common questions about heart failure.

How can I tell if I have heart failure? What are some sure signs?

“The signs and symptoms of heart failure are numerous, but the most common ones are shortness of breath when trying to walk (which differs from somebody’s normal pattern); progressive swelling in the feet, legs and ankles that does not disappear overnight; and waking up at night due to shortness of breath or waking up more than normal to urinate,” Dr. Rowan says.

Can heart failure be cured?

“The treatment of heart failure depends on its primary cause,” Dr. Rowan says. “Various forms of heart failure can be cured; however, the person is always at risk for recurrence. Some forms of heart failure have no cure but can be managed and stabilized and people can live a relatively normal life for years.”

What can I do to prevent heart failure?

“To prevent the onset of heart failure, know your risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and an unhealthy lifestyle,” Dr. Rowan says. “If you have any of these risk factors, work to get them under good control and stop smoking. If you are overweight, start a daily routine where you walk at least 45 minutes per day, 5 days per week. Walking is the best exercise for your cardiovascular health.”

To learn more, visit the Heart Failure Program at the Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health. 

We want to hear your story! If you or a friend have been treated for a heart condition at Renown Health and are interested in chatting with us about your experience, please email your contact information to support@renown.org so we can follow up.

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