Understanding Heart Failure – The first step to manage Heart Failure and live quality life

11:39 AM Dec 24, 2021 | PTI |

As per the estimates, there are 8-10 million Heart Failure patients in the country and about 23% of them die within a year of diagnosis, due to low awareness about the disease. There is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to understanding heart failure. The disease is often confused with heart attack, or its symptoms are ignored as signs of old age or other diseases. This can lead to delayed diagnosis and the patient might reach the doctor at an advanced stage of the disease.


To be better prepared to handle these issues, build awareness, and provide guidance, The Times of India has launched a mission called ‘Beat Heart Failure’in partnership with Novartis. This initiative aims to empower as many people as possible with the right knowledge and expert inputs on “Heart Failure”, to manage the disease. In this endeavor, multiple panel discussions are being hosted with senior doctors from India’s best hospitals. The first of such discussions was conducted on 22nd December with specialists from KokilabenDhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH), Mumbai. The idea was to help people understand heart failure so they can effectively manage it. Following esteemed doctors from KDAH were part of the discussion: Dr. Jamshed Dalal, Director, Cardiac Sciences Dr. Pravin Kahale, Consultant, Cardiology Dr. Niranjan Kulkarni, Consultant, Nephrology Dr. Nisha Kaimal, Consultant, Endocrinology & Diabetology Heart Failure doesn’t mean the heart has ”failed” or stopped working. It means that the heart is weak and fails to pump the required amount of blood to the other parts of the body. It is a health condition and can be effectively managed with regular treatment and the right lifestyle modifications.

Whereas heart attack is when your coronary artery gets blocked. Blood flow doesn’t go to the heart muscle and you require an emergency angioplasty or a treatment based on the findings of angiography. A heart attack may or may not be fatal depending on how early you get the treatment.

A cardiac arrest is when your heart stops beating. And that’s, of course, a very dangerous situation where if you don’t do CPR and resuscitate the patient, the patient will not survive beyond the first three or five minutes, mentioned by Dr. Jamshed Dalal while explaining the difference between Heart Failure, Heart Attack &Cardiac Arrest.

Today, the highest number of admissions in hospitals in cardiology is because of Heart Failure. In fact in India, Heart Failure is also seen in patients, who are almost 10 years younger than the global average age. Breathlessness and swelling of the legs are early signs of heart failure. There are more common symptoms that indicate that your heart is not pumping enough oxygen-rich blood to major organs and muscles, such as fatigue; weight gain; urge to urinate while resting at night; dizziness, confusion, fainting; rapid or irregular heartbeats (palpitations), etc.


Heart Failure can be acute heart failure, where the heart pumping becomes suddenly very poor which could be because of a heart attack or other reasons. The patient becomes extremely breathless, as the lungs are congested with fluid. About 90% of the patients, if treated well, come out of acute heart failure. However, they may go into chronic heart failure. Chronic heart failure can be classified into two types – one where the heart pumping becomes very weak. Doctors determine the capacity of the heart through Ejection Fraction, which means how well your left ventricle pumps out blood with each contraction. The normal ejection fraction is 55% or more. However, if the ejection fraction is below 40%, it is referred to as heart failure with a reduced ejection fraction. The other type is when the heart becomes stiff. Although the heart pumping is good at 50-55% because the heart is stiff, it is not been able to allow blood to enter into the ventricles and you get congested and breathless. The pandemic of heart failure is due to Lifestyle, which is leading to early diabetes and early coronary artery disease said Dr. Praveen Kahale. Lifestyle management is most important especially for young people. It is important to monitor weight gain, regular exercise, no smoking, no tobacco, and a moderate amount of alcohol. Hypertension and Diabetes are very evident health conditions, if not controlled may lead to heart failure. Hypertension and Diabetes go unnoticed many times because it is most of the time asymptomatic. But the moment you get to know that you have high blood pressure. It is absolutely important to keep it under control by reducing the salt & fluid intake, avoiding processed food, and making monitoring an integral part of your life. Almost 30 percent of high blood pressure patients with heart failure, end up having some kidney problems. Hence, it is significant to start monitoring the blood pressure from the age of 18 to know the health condition to prevent the progression of CKD or Chronic Kidney Disease, emphasized by Dr. Niranjan Kulkarni. In the case of Diabetes, there are three important parameters of prevention – blood sugar control, blood pressure control, and cholesterol control. Any increase or change in readings of these three major risk factors in a heart failure patient doubles the risk of death. Start testing your blood sugar from the age of 45 or any age, if you have risk factors, like family history, or obesity, or being overweight, suggested by Dr. Nisha Kaimal. A lot has been done in medicine to help Heart Failure patients. There are extremely good treatments available that can improve your quality of life significantly and lifespan by more than a decade with proper medications or surgeries or devices. This panel discussion provided a great amount of understanding and deliberated upon various reasons for Heart Failure, symptoms to look for, and ways to effectively manage it. Remember, heart failure is not the end of the world and can be effectively managed with regular treatment and the right lifestyle modifications.

Watch the panel discussion here Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article by the panelists/experts are based on their independent professional judgment and are disseminated in the public interest. These views should not be considered as a substitute for the professional advice of a registered medical practitioner. The purpose of this article is not to promote any medical procedures or medication and/or recommend a certain doctor. For any specific health issues, please consult your registered medical practitioner.”


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