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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Are you at risk for congestive heart failure?

Five million Americans are living with congestive heart failure, and 400,000 new diagnoses are made each year.

Heart failure is a chronic, long-term condition with many causes. The most common cause is coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. It can also result from an infection that weakens the heart muscle, a condition known as cardiomyopathy, or by a heart defect at birth. Other heart problems that may cause heart failure include congenital heart disease, heart attack, heart valve disease and some arrhythmias. In addition, diseases like emphysema, severe anemia and thyroid problems may contribute to heart failure.

Heart failure is defined as the inability of the heart to pump a sufficient amount of blood to rest of the body. The failing heart doesn’t stop working; it works less well. At first, congestive heart patients may notice symptoms like shortness of breath, rapid pulse or even fainting only when they exert themselves — while walking, running or dancing, for instance. But over time, breathing problems and other symptoms may occur even during rest.

Because heart failure affects the kidneys’ ability to dispose of sodium and water, common signs of the condition include swollen legs or ankles and weight gain as fluid accumulates.
Heart failure tends to affect older people more often: 1% of people aged 50 have heart failure, compared 5% of those aged 75 or older and 25% of those aged 85 years or older. The condition is more common among African Americans than whites.

To learn more about the symptoms and treatments of heart failure — most people with mild or moderate heart failure can be successfully treated — please see the National Institutes of Health or the AHA websites.

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