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Heart failure is hidden behind common symptoms

  • More than 20 million people in the world suffer from heart failure.
  • Patients confuse the symptoms with more common diseases or explain them as normal deterioration due to age.

Santo Domingo June 2018. Heart failure will affect 1 in 5 people over 40 years of age throughout their lives. This high number is derived especially from the serious problem of late diagnosis that is made until today of the disease because those who suffer from it justify the symptoms with problems associated with age or other health conditions.

The main characteristic of the disease is that the heart does not pump the blood that the body requires to perform its usual functions, which generates a weak or too rigid muscle to perform its function properly. In other words, the heart cannot contract with enough force or fill with enough blood, generating a series of symptoms that are easy to confuse with other conditions.

“The symptoms of heart failure are varied and include shortness of breath, tiredness, swelling in the legs – more visible in the ankles -, persistent cough, choking sensation at bedtime and rapid weight gain. Patients often miss these same symptoms and attribute them to their age, a recent illness and other exogenous factors, which results in a late consultation and consequently, a diagnosis of the disease until when it is already advanced, ”explained the Therapeutic Area Director Cardiovascular and Metabolism of Novartis for Central America and the Caribbean, Dr. David Rodríguez.

Cardiovascular diseases are the main reason for death in the world. Heart failure, still under-diagnosed, causes 2 to 3 times more deaths than advanced cancers such as bowel or breast cancer.

Key symptoms. It is possible individually that the symptoms of heart failure do not cause alarm, but if you have more than one of them, even if you have not been diagnosed with any heart problem, it is advisable to consult your cardiologist and ask for an evaluation. The predominant symptoms are:

  • Abnormal fatigue from efforts that did not cause it before. The blood does not reach the muscles properly and causes a situation of muscular fatigue.
  • Fatigue breathing due to stagnation of fluids in the alveoli of the lungs. If when lying down, there is a choking sensation that forces you to get up and sleep while sitting.
  • A sensation of the fullness of the abdomen, anorexia (lack of appetite).
  • Sometimes dry and persistent cough may appear due to fluid retention in the lungs.
  • Feeling dizzy The reduction of blood flow to the brain can cause feelings of dizziness, confusion, blank mind, and brief loss of consciousness. If these episodes related to low tension figures occur, it is advisable to sit or lie down.
  • Decreased urine Insufficiency can cause blood flow to the kidneys to be insufficient, and fluid retention due to decreased urine. This swelling is usually located in the legs, ankles, or abdomen. And sometimes you urinate more at night than in the day (nocturia).
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) with effort and poor tolerance to fatigue exercise.

“Heart failure can have many causes; for example, the heart muscle can suffer damage after a heart attack, high blood pressure, or lifestyle factors. If you have had a previous heart condition, you may develop the disease, so it is important to take the forecasts of the case and understand some of the manifestations that may occur over time, ”he said (name of external speaker).

Treatment. Treatments for heart failure are the first step in controlling the disease. In the market, there are effective medicines to delay the progression, improve the quality of life, prolong it, and enhance the capacity for effort.

Although the condition has no cure, treatments control, and improves debilitating symptoms. “For Novartis, commitment to patients is the engine that drives us to continue researching and developing treatments that reduce the risk of cardiovascular death. Our goal is for people to consult their doctor about symptoms, get a diagnosis in time and improve their quality of life, ”said Irene Arguedas, Director of Corporate Affairs at Novartis for Central America and the Caribbean.

About Novartis

Novartis provides innovative health solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies.

Based in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to meet better these needs: innovative medicines, vision care, and generic pharmaceutical products that save costs.

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