Demystifying Heart Failure: A treatable chronic disease

Graduate student MIN JOO KIM and physician-researcher RANDALL STAFFORD have published the first in a series of Scope blog entries demystifying heart failure. The series will also take a look into the mechanisms and biology of heart failure and highlight common treatment strategies.

Human Heart
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The heart supplies oxygen-rich blood to all of the body’s cells. For many, the diagnosis of heart failure, like cancer, could sound like a death sentence. Just a few decades ago, this was mostly correct. Those diagnosed with heart failure could expect a declining quality of life, followed by an inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

Now, with advances in diagnostics and medications and with a better understanding of the role of lifestyle factors, heart failure does not necessarily mean a death sentence, they said.

There are different types of heart failure, but in general, it develops when the heart is unable to keep up with the body’s demand for oxygenated blood.

Randall Stafford, an internal medicine specialist at Stanford Medicine, stresses that maintaining regular physical activity and adopting healthy eating habits are vital. Preventing high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as managing stress and mental health are key to heart failure treatment. These healthy behaviors can also help prevent heart failure from occurring.

Treatment for heart failure relies on patient self-management, particularly a vital combination of medication adherence and healthy behaviors. Heart failure medications when combined with lifestyle modifications help reduce the stress upon the heart, which will be discussed in future blogs.

Read the full article and more on the School of Medicine website.