India has 5.4 million heart failure patients. Keeping this in mind, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) suggested a community level approach to tackle the problem and to ensure timely diagnosis.
According to the premiere health institution, despite availability of medicines, people with heart failure face a high risk of death and poor quality of life. Up to half of them die within five years of diagnosis despite treatment.
‘There is no cure for heart failure, but with lifestyle modification the life-span of the patient can be increased.’
"The need of the hour is that there should be a community level approach to identify patients with heart failure to ensure timely diagnosis and special treatment for improving their quality of life. For heart failure patients, it is not only their weak heart that needs to be taken care of but other organs like kidneys and lungs need equally special care," said Sundeep Mishra, Professor of Cardiology at AIIMS.
Mishra, who has been with the hospital for decades, said that a lot of Indians also do not understand the difference between heart failure and heart attack.
"Heart failure refers to the condition where the blood pumping capacity of the heart is reduced. Whereas, heart attack is secondary to blocked coronary circulation, where the blood supply to muscles of heart is cut or drastically reduced. Heart failure is a serious health hazard and can be life threatening if ignored," Mishra told IANS, while speaking about the rising heart failure cases.
According to the World Health Organization, heart failure impacts more than 60 million people worldwide. The risk of death of heart failure patients is comparable to that of patients with advanced cancer. It currently costs the world economy $108 billion every year.
Although, heart failure may strike at any age, it is more common in people over the age of 65. It includes high blood pressure, prior heart attack, enlarged heart and diabetes.
Mishra said the major reason for low awareness of heart failure among people is the fact that patients mistake it for signs of getting older.
"Although there is no cure for heart failure, patients who are diagnosed early need to follow their treatment and make lifestyle changes to live longer, feel better and be more active. It is, therefore, vital that patients and care givers are aware of the symptoms of heart failure, leading to better recognition and earlier diagnosis," said Mishra.