Heart failure is represented by a condition in which an inability to supply sufficient blood flow throughout the body is brought about by a problem with the structure and/or function of the heart. This term is sometimes incorrectly associated with other heart-related conditions such as cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Heart failure can be caused by various forms of ischemic heart disease, valvular heart disease, hypertension and cardiomyopathy. Symptoms brought about by heart failure can include ankle swelling, shortness of breath (especially when lying down), coughing and easily brought about fatigue. Since there is no universally accepted definition of heart disease and challenges posed by no definitive diagnosis, heart failure is often undiagnosed. Treatment will usually consist of lifestyle adjustments (such as salt-free diets), medication and possibly surgery.
Heart failure can be a costly, disabling and potentially lethal condition. Approximately 2% of adults in developed countries suffer from heart failure. However, this number increases to 6-10% in those over the age of 65. The high cost factors are related to the expense of hospitalization and have been estimated at $35 billion in the United States, alone. The disease is also closely associated with a marked decrease in the quality of life. The condition may deteriorate over time (with the exception of those cases involving reversible conditions). The average annual mortality rate is 10%, though some patients will survive for many years.
Chronic heart failure can originate from causes that are difficult to identify, due to population differences and changing causes associated with aging. However, the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (in a 19 year study) indicated that the primary causes (by rank) are: ischemic heart disease (62%), cigarettes (16%), hypertension (10%), obesity (8%), diabetes (3%) and valvular heart disease (2% – although much more prevalent in older populations).
The more rare causes of chronic heart failure will include viral myocarditis (heart muscle infection), infiltrations of the heart muscle, cardiomyopathy caused by HIV, connective tissue disease, use of drugs and alcohol, certain pharmaceutical drugs and arrhythmias.
An independent cause of heart failure has been related to a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and a sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
For assistance with Social Security cases involving chronic heart failure, contact Attorney Gerard Lynch, servicing clients in San Antonio, and throughout Texas by clicking here.