Best Life: Heart failure in young adults presents a new danger

Heart Failure in Young Adults

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – About 6 million Americans have heart failure, a condition that happens when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It often affects older adults with aging hearts. But now a study shows heart failure is on the rise in younger people too. And more are dying from it.

Your heart is a hard-working organ. It beats about 100,000 times a day and pumps an average of 2,000 gallons of blood. But if you have heart failure, the muscle can’t do its job properly and the symptoms can be severe.

“Shortness of breath, fluid build-up in the lungs, fluid build-up in the legs, so-called edema swelling of the legs and just easy fatigability and lack of endurance. So that’s what heart failure can cause,” said Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

It can also lead to death. In fact, about half the people who develop heart failure die within five years. And now a study shows that for the first time, death rates due to heart failure have been increasing among younger adults. This rise was highest among black men under age 65. Researchers believe lifestyle factors are a big reason for the surge.

“Things like obesity, growing rates of diabetes and probably other factors that we don't totally understand maybe pollution or other things are raising levels of heart disease in certain populations,” continued Dr. Bhatt.

To cut your risk: eat a diet high in fruits, veggies and whole grains and low in saturated fats, sugars, and sodium. Americans get 71 percent of their daily sodium from processed and restaurant foods. Also, stop smoking! If you smoke, you’re more than twice as likely to have a heart attack. Exercise for about 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. And, get enough sleep. Most people need between six and eight hours a night.

Recent data also shows that the average life expectancy in the U.S. is declining, which may be related to the increase in cardiovascular deaths. It was 78.9 in 2014 and 78.6 in 2017.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved. Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.