Getting smart about heart care
Chronic heart disease is serious. But understanding more about it can help you be more confident in caring for loved ones who have it. For example, while congestive heart failure (CHF) sounds alarming, it simply means the heart is not pumping blood as well as it should. Sometimes, other conditions, such as diabetes, are a factor. Signs of CHF could include trouble breathing, coughing or wheezing, or feeling tired. Still, CHF can have some severe symptoms, too — chest pain; extreme shortness of breath; coughing up pink, foamy mucus; rapid or irregular heartbeat; and fainting or extreme fatigue — and they demand an immediate 911 call.
There are ways to treat CHF and slow its progression. You might need to help make sure your loved one is taking medicine as prescribed or getting support after surgery, like cardiac rehabilitation. This medically supervised program may improve heart health after heart attack, heart failure or heart surgery, for more independence and improved quality of life. Learn more — visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at www.nhlbi.nih.gov and search for cardiac rehab.
Find your — or your loved one’s — risk of heart disease with this easy-to-use online calculator from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association: www.tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator/ Then, schedule an appointment with the doctor to discuss how to improve heart health.