The CDC reports that 6.5 million people in America suffer from heart failure (source). In 2012, this heart condition cost Americans $30.7 billion in work absenteeism, health care services and drugs. In 2017, it contributed to one in eight deaths. As if these numbers are not already dismal enough, they are expected to increase.
In fact, a 2017 report published by the American Heart Association estimated that by 2030, there will be a 46% increase in heart failure cases.
Heart failure occurs when the heart becomes so weak that it struggles to pump oxygenated blood to all the areas of the body that need it. Many people confuse this with the heart no longer beating, which is instead known as sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Even so, both of these conditions do share a link.
People who survive SCA face a much higher risk of suffering from heart failure afterward. In fact, medical researchers believe that one reason for the higher rates of heart failure is the fact that medical advances have made SCA less lethal than it used to be.
There are several additional factors known to increase the likelihood of suffering from heart failure, even when there is no personal or family history of SCA. These are some of the most common that are present in the larger population:
The unfortunate fact is that even in developed nations where health care advances by the leaps and bounds every year, not all demographics share these benefits equally.
America’s most vulnerable populations face the highest risk of suffering from fatal heart failure incidents. These include the following:
These demographics experience higher risks due to fewer resources. For instance, one 2016 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine reported that Hispanics and African Americans experienced the most factors that coincided with a lower likelihood of having health insurance. Factors range from employment opportunities to family structures.
Heart failure is just one part of the puzzle of heart health problems that America faces. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death in America and ranks alongside stroke as the top contributors to death rates around the world.
Here are some additional notable facts that may catch your attention:
Created by the American Heart Association, this concept provides seven crucial factors to help people monitor, maintain and improve heart health. Following the seven principles can also have a positive impact on managing other major illnesses, such as stroke.
Both stroke and heart disease share strong links with high blood pressure. This is because high blood pressure can lead to a strain on the arteries, heart and even the kidneys. Reducing that pressure to a healthy rate also reduces the strain.
Not all cholesterol is bad, but once you have too much of it stored in the body, it begins to pose a risk to your health. This is because the body tends to store cholesterol in the arteries as a fatty or waxy substance, which can lead to blockages.
To many people’s surprise, sweet foods are not the only culprits for high blood sugar. In fact, the body converts most foods into glucose, such as carbs from rice or pasta. This can lead to damage to the body over time, especially to the kidneys, eyes, heart and nerves.
In most cases, getting active isn’t the hard part. Many people have committed to joining a gym or have decided to take up biking or hiking. Staying active is the hard part. Make a commitment to yourself to make physical activity part of your daily routine.
The diet that serves one person well might prove detrimental to another. Enlist the help of your doctor or a nutritionist to determine what might work best for you. Ask specifically about a heart-healthy diet and make gradual, sustainable changes for the better.
When you follow all five recommendations above, you may find that you begin to lose weight naturally. If you do not, consult your physician to see what else you can do to maintain a healthier body weight. This will help you look good and feel good while reducing many of the risks associated with obesity.
People who smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products face higher risks of developing cardiovascular disease. Even people who do not smoke but who consume nicotine products in other ways, such as by vaping, might have an increased risk.
There are many factors contributing to the increase in heart failure risks and the dismal projection for the years ahead. Even so, there are steps people can take at the individual level to safeguard their health for years to come.