5 misconceptions about heart failure
Heart failure is characterized by an inability of the heart muscle, myocardium, to pump enough blood to drain it to the rest of the body and allow it to function properly. This pathology continues to gain ground, since it affects 1.5 million French, or 25% more than four years ago. 120,000 new cases are detected each year. Nevertheless, many of us feel safe from this evil and, therefore, we miss out on its symptoms. Here's how to unravel the true from the fake in this area and take the health of its throbbing in hand.
It only concerns very old people
Admittedly, the average age at the time of diagnosis is 74 years old. Heart failure reaches more than 70 years, three to six times more than the rest of the population: they are 10 to 20% to be victims. However, being younger does not prevent us from doing so. Potential targets include people who have had an infarction but also those who have cardiomyopathy, which is deformity of the heart muscle. It can be hereditary, linked to a virus, the consumption of toxic substances, such as nicotine and alcohol, or find its origin in certain conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperthyroidism. "It is necessary to be very vigilant if you suffer from these chronic diseases," said Jean-Pierre Binon, cardiologist and president of the National Union of Specialists in Heart and Vessel Diseases (SNSMCV). Having valvulopathy, malformation of the heart valves, or coronary artery disease, that is to say a dysfunction in the arteries that is characterized by insufficient blood transport to the heart, should also encourage you to make regular medical checks.
It's a man's disease
False. Hormones secreted by the body of women - estrogen and progesterone - have a protective role against coronary heart failure, which explains why heart failure starts later at home. But this shield effect disappears after menopause, when the hormone levels drop significantly, resulting in a deficit that the prescription of hormone replacement therapy fails to compensate. And the bad habits that now show women tend to erase permanently the difference between the two sexes. "Their protective capital is undermined by risky behavior, such as smoking or not following treatment to stabilize cholesterol or hypertension," said Jean-Pierre Binon.
You have to worry only if you have genetic predispositions
False. Heart failure is not a hereditary disease that is transmitted as such. Nevertheless, it is found at all levels of the family tree in some families. And it has been found that a parental antecedent multiplies by 2, 72 the probability of developing it, notably because certain malformations or cardiac abnormalities may have a congenital character and favor its occurrence. However, various studies, including the infamous Framingham protocol conducted since 1948, show that "environmental" parameters weigh heavily in the balance. The way we have to reproduce, from generation to generation, the same way of cooking, of caring for (or not) the dietetics of one's meals and of practicing (or not) regularly of the physical exercise also impacts - positively or negatively - our health.
Shortness of breath indicates a lung disorder, not heart
No. If the lack of breath can actually be the manifestation of a problem in the lungs, it is also and especially one of the major signs that translate the presence of heart failure. "Initially, it is observed during quite substantial efforts. Then as the disease progresses, it occurs even for much more innocuous gestures. And finally, even at rest, when one reaches the stage where the cardiac function is very degraded ", explains our cardiologist. It's up to you to be attentive to these kinds of signs. Other events should alarm you: a dry cough that persists and causes very long weaves, general fatigue and weight gain very fast (several pounds per week) accompanied by swelling of the legs. "As it no longer gets enough blood, the organ triggers a neurohormonal mechanism that allows it to retain water and salt to continue functioning," concludes Jean-Pierre Binon. Hence these famous oedemas, so characteristic, which must lead you to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Profiles to watch for
More than others, these factors promote affection. It's up to you to open your eyes ...
- if you are overweight, especially if the fat is concentrated on the abdominal area.
- if you have high blood pressure.
- if you have ever had a heart attack.
- if you have heart problems such as arrhythmia.
- if you smoke.
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