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Heart Failure Archive


Taking fewer daily steps still offers protection from heart problems

People who take an average of 4,500 steps each day may have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart failure than those who take less than 2,000 steps per day.

Hospital at home: A movement whose time has come

Hospital at home provides care in a person's home for common conditions such as heart failure. Health care providers visit at least twice daily and can draw blood, provide intravenous medication delivery, and take portable ultrasounds and chest X-rays. Patients are constantly monitored via a small patch on the chest that measures heart rate and rhythm, breathing rates, and activity. The program also provides a tablet used for videoconferencing with the doctor and specialists, if needed.

A virtual approach to healing the heart

Cardiac rehabilitation, which teaches heart-healthy habits coupled with supervised exercise, can help people with heart conditions prevent future problems. Some parts of the program can be done at home, delivered through a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Known as virtual cardiac rehab, this approach offers several advantages over conventional rehab, such as avoiding the time and expense of traveling to multiple sessions during the week.

A new drug to treat heart failure

Most people with heart failure (or those at high risk for it) need several medications to treat their symptoms. New guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association have added another drug class to the treatment list: a group of diabetes drugs called sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors. SGLT-2 inhibitors offer multiple benefits, such as helping to reduce swelling, lowering high blood pressure, assisting with weight loss, reducing complications associated with heart failure, and preventing hospitalization.

Brushing off heart failure symptoms

Heart failure symptoms, such as being tired or out of breath, gaining weight, or having swollen ankles, can be overlooked and attributed to other causes. As a result, heart failure is not usually diagnosed until months or years later, when a person is hospitalized for it. By that point, the risk for dying from heart failure has already risen significantly, sometimes higher than the risk of death from cancer. Someone who has potential heart failure symptoms should talk to a doctor, especially if symptoms are new and if the person has diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, or an unhealthy lifestyle.

How COVID-19 can compromise your heart health

COVID survivors—even those with mild infections—appear to face a higher risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart failure, heart attack, and stroke for up to one year after their initial infection. People who were hospitalized (especially those who ended up in the intensive care unit) may have the highest risk. The virus that causes COVID can injure blood vessels and triggers an immune response that promotes the formation of blood clots in arteries and veins throughout the body and brain.

Warning signs of early heart failure

The signs of early heart failure, which include fatigue, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles, are often dismissed. Recent developments in both the detection and treatment of heart failure may help ease the burden of this disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes receive yearly blood tests for a common biomarker of heart failure. And the FDA recently expanded use of a diabetes drug proven to keep people with heart failure (even those without diabetes) out of the hospital and alive longer.

Women's heart symptoms not so different after all

Women have long been told to watch for "atypical" signs of heart attack, but new guidance reveals that heart symptoms are not as different in men and women as once believed. Women are also more likely to have a less-common subtype of heart failure, and reproductive history should be considered when assessing women's heart risks. Anyone experiencing chest pain should call 911, mention chest pain before other symptoms, and bear in mind that other chest sensations may signal heart attack.

Want a healthier heart? Seriously consider skipping the drinks

No amount of alcohol, including red wine, is good for the heart, according to a policy brief from the World Heart Federation. Drinking, even in moderation, increases the risk for heart-related conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, stroke, cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle), aortic aneurysm (a dangerous bulge in the wall of the aorta), and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm). People who drink regularly might benefit from reducing their intake.

What causes a stiff, narrowed aortic valve?

The most common cause of a stiff, narrowed aortic valve (aortic stenosis) is a buildup of scar tissue and calcium on the valve. Factors that contribute to narrowing of this valve include age, an inborn valve defect, and various diseases such as kidney disease. Aortic stenosis can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and lightheadedness, especially during physical activity.

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