Heart failure is a very common condition that affects thousands of people. It is a chronic condition, which means that after being diagnosed with heart failure, most people live with the condition for the rest of their lives.
While the term “Heart Failure” sounds pretty scary, it does not mean that the heart is going to stop in the near future, or that you are going to die soon.
Heart failure is the term that describes a condition where the heart is not able to meet the needs of the body. This can happen for a number of different reasons.
The main symptoms of heart failure are fatigue, shortness of breath and swelling. Because the heart is not able to circulate blood as it normally should, blood or fluid can build up in the lungs (causing shortness or breath), or in the abdomen or ankles (causing swelling).
How common is Heart Failure?
Heart failure is very common. Currently, over half a million Canadians have heart failure, and 50,000 new people are diagnosed with the condition every year. Heart failure is the most common reason for admission to hospital. It usually affects people later in life, but can affect people of any age. With the aging population, the number of people affected by heart failure is going to rise.
After you are diagnosed with heart failure, you will receive a lot of information. The purpose of this website is to serve as a resource. There is a lot of information on this site, that will hopefully answer a lot of the questions you have about heart failure. See the section on What are the symptoms of Heart Failure for more details.
How is Heart Failure treated?
There are a number of ways that heart failure can be treated. This website contains information about a number of different therapies offered to people with heart failure. These include lifestyle changes (like fluid and salt restriction), medications and other specialized devices. See the section on Treatments for more details.
Is Heart Failure a serious condition?
Yes, heart failure is serious. It is one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death in Canada. While many advances have been made in treating heart failure, most people who are diagnosed with heart failure will eventually die from the disease.
It is difficult to predict how long someone with heart failure may live. Many people live many years after the diagnosis of heart failure.
There may be long periods of stability where the symptoms of heart failure remain stable, however, often there are periods where the symptoms worsen, called exacerbations. These usually result from excess fluid accumulating in the body.
By keeping a close eye on how much fluid you take in, and how much salt you eat, the symptoms of heart failure can often be managed. An important way to monitor the amount of fluid in your body is to weigh yourself daily. Increases in your weight over a short period of time is usually due to fluid accumulation. See the section on Sodium Restriction and Fluid Restriction for more details.
Take Home Messages
- “Heart failure” means that the heart is not able to meet the demands of the body. It does not mean that the heart has stopped working or is beyond repair.
- Heart failure is a common condition.
- The severity of heart failure and how long an individual will live with heart failure varies.
- Many treatments are available to help patients live longer and feel better.
- In general, heart failure can be treated but not cured.