Heart failure is often mistaken as the end of life. Though the term sounds very alarming, it is just an indication of an urgent situation that tends to show that the heart is not working as well as it should be. It also indicates that if proper measures are not taken in order to slow down the condition or prevent the condition from worsening further, it might take a toll on your life.
What is Heart Failure?
Heart failure indicates congestion in the heart, when the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. As there is reduced or slowed down blood flow from the heart, the body also receives less blood flow. As a consequence, the blood that returns to the heart through your veins backs up. Hence, there is congestion in the body tissues. That is why; if blood congestion and heart condition are not taken care of, it might swell your legs, ankles and stomach. The lungs are also filled with fluid and this is a real problem that causes breathing difficulty. Chest pain, dizziness and fatigue are additional symptoms that people with congestive heart failure will experience.
How Long Can You Live With A Heart Failure?
Most people have this question in mind, as to how long they can survive with congestive heart failure. It is actually a tricky question as it depends on a number of factors, such as –
- Heart failure stage (the extent of the damage caused to the heart)
- Overall health (other diseases if any)
- The age
- The gender
The stage of heart failure is the most important factor that will determine how long you might live with the condition. Your doctor will tell you, which stage of heart failure you are having, grading it from stage A to stage D.
These are people, who still do not have any heart problems, heart damages and do not show any signs or symptoms of heart failure; but they are at a high risk of getting congestive heart failure.
In this stage, the people may have some abnormalities in their heart, but they still do not show any signs or symptoms of heart failure.
It is in this stage that the signs and symptoms of heart failure are visible. The doctors will start the treatment in this stage. Usually exercises are a must, along with the use of beta blockers to keep the heart in good condition.
When all other interventions stop working, it is considered to be stage D. In this stage, the doctors suggest the patients to undergo a heart transplant or other surgical implants are recommended. In some cases, the patients are given end-of-life care and support.
Stage of Heart Failure and Life Expectancy:
The lower your stage of heart failure is, the longer you will live. People with Stage A of heart failure, may live for about 20 years, if they check their lifestyle, eat healthy, drink healthy and exercise properly. People with Stage B may not realize the signs and symptoms as they take rest. However, while taking a flight of stairs, or while walking or running, they might feel breathless or tired. They will live slightly shorter than people with Stage A heart failure.
However, research studies, as published in Circulation Research journal, in the August 2013 issue, have shown that about 50% of heart failure patients have lived for more about 5 years. About 10% of all their subjects have lived for about 10 years. However, in case the patient is in the Stage D, 90% of the patients will die within a year. That is how the stage of the heart failure is important in determining the life expectancy of the patients.
Age and Gender and Life Expectancy of People with Heart Failure
Just as the stage, age and gender also play a key role in the estimation of life expectancy of a heart failure patient. The younger you are, the more you will live with your congestive heart failure condition. Older people with this problem will live shorter than younger people, even if the stage of heart failure is the same. On the other hand, women have more life expectancy than men. A combined study of how age and gender matter in case of life expectancy of heart failure patients has shown men with congestive heart failure in their 80s have lived for about 2.9 years on an average; while women with congestive heart failure in their 50s have lived for about 20 years.
How Common is Heart Failure?
It is very important to understand that heart failure is not uncommon. About 5 million people, which is about 1 in every 5 Americans, have heart failure. What is serious about this condition is that people with heart failure are about 900% more likely to encounter sudden death than others. However, it is also a fact that people with heart failure have lived for years with that condition.
Though there are many data and surveys about how long people with heart failure may live, there is no denying the fact that it is a serious condition that cannot be overlooked and must be taken care of at once. Here, it also needs to be mentioned that research studies have shown how people with heart failure are too over-optimistic about their condition and life expectancy. Though, it is an individual case and one person may live differently from another with the same condition, being optimistic is not a solution. Proper treatment, right lifestyle and avoiding the risk factors are a must, if you want to live longer with the heart failure.
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