Dr Dulcy Rakumakoe
Heart failure and stroke are leading causes of death in adult South Africans; more than four times the number of people murdered and the leading causes of hospitalisation in people older than age 65.
Heart disease is one of the most serious threats to the health of our nation and it’s mainly due to our lazy, Western lifestyle.
In South Africa, a whopping 210 die of heart disease every single day.
Heart failure means the heart’s pumping power is weaker than normal and pressure in the heart increases. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s needs.
The chambers of the heart may stretch to hold more blood to pump through the body or become thickened.
This keeps the blood moving, but the heart muscle walls may weaken and be unable to pump as efficiently. The kidneys may respond by causing the body to retain water and salt.
If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs or other organs, the body becomes congested and congestive heart failure is the term used to describe the condition.
The doctor will ask you about any conditions you have that may cause heart failure (such as coronary artery disease, angina, diabetes, heart valve disease and high blood pressure).
You will be asked if you smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol (and how much you drink), and what drugs you take. Your doctor may also order other tests. These include:
Heart failure is caused by many conditions that damage the heart muscle, including:
If you have heart failure, you may have one or all of these symptoms or none of them. They may or may not indicate a weakened heart. The symptoms can include:
Stop smoking or chewing tobacco, exercise regularly, do not drink alcohol, eat a healthy diet and prevent respiratory infections.