Noticing the signs of congestive heart failure

Congestive heart failure is the most common diagnosis in hospital patients 65 and older.

However, it may come as a surprise to learn that more than one million of the five million Americans suffering from the condition are under the age of 60. Some have symptoms decades earlier.

Early diagnosis can make all the difference.
Fifty-nine-year-old Craig Young learned four years ago that his heart was not pumping right. When doctors told this competitive weight lifter he was suffering from congestive heart failure, he was blown away.

Young says, "When I was strong and was lifting the heavy weight, I felt like I could walk out in front of a semi, and I thought you know what, you're not going to hurt me."

Doctors say a virus may have weakened Craig’s heart. It was pumping like that of an 80-year-old with a weak heart.

Doctor David Rawitscher, Medical Director at the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic says, "It's a lot younger than we typically see. Most of the time, congestive heart failure is a disease of people who are over 65."

Congestive heart failure is present in two percent of all Americans age 40 to 59. Experts say those numbers have been steadily on the rise.

That is why doctors say everyone should know the symptoms: coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty exercising, and difficulty sleeping.

Craig has made dietary changes, reducing his salt intake to stop fluid buildup in his lungs.

Registered Dietician Emily Hein says, "This is one teaspoon of salt, this is the maximum recommended for healthy people."

Craig is determined to maintain the dietary changes and he will keep pumping iron to keep his heart pumping strong.

Researchers say there are about half a million new congestive heart failure cases each year.

Half of those patients are hospitalized again within six months.

REPORT #2122

BACKGROUND: Heart failure is caused when the heart is unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to support the other organs found in our bodies. This does not mean that the heart has stopped beating, but it is very serious. A little over 5 million people in the United States alone die from this each year. About half of people who experience heart failure die within 5 years after they are diagnosed.
(Source: )

RISK FACTORS: There are many diseases that damage your heart, and these can also increase your risk for heart failure. A few of the main diseases are:
* Diabetes
* High blood pressure
* Coronary heart disease and heart attacks
Unhealthy behaviors also increase the risk to have heart failure. The more of these you have the greater your chances are:
* Smoking tobacco
* Eating foods with high levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium
* Lack of physical exercise
* Obesity
(Source: )
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEART FAILURE: The common signs of heart failure include running out of breath during daily activities, or not being able to breathe well when lying down. Weight gain is also very common. There is often swelling seen in the legs, feet, ankles, or stomach. People with heart failure often feel very tired and weak. Getting diagnosed early can significantly improve the length of time you live if you have heart failure. The ways to treat heart failure usually involve taking medications, reducing the daily amount of sodium in your diet, and exercising or being active daily.
(Source: )

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 270043581 -