Heart failure: Often early symptoms of the deadly syndrome

Active against high blood pressure and heart attack
With heart failure (heart failure), patients suffer from a weakened performance of the heart. The pumping power is weakened depending on the progress of the disease. In Germany about 2 to 3 million people suffer from heart failure. Suffering is not an independent disease, but the result of other heart diseases.

Heart failure from coronary artery disease
In about 70% of cases, heart failure develops from coronary artery disease (CAD) - usually as a result of one or more heart attacks - and long-term high blood pressure, which is not or only insufficiently treated. One in three adults in Germany has high blood pressure (20 million people affected). “If left untreated, the heart is at risk of serious consequences because the chronic pressure load thickens the heart muscle. The heart becomes larger, but not more efficient, but weaker, ”warns heart specialist Prof. Dr. med. Thomas Voigtländer, board member of the German Heart Foundation, on the occasion of the nationwide Heart Week with over 1,000 events and information about heart failure. Typical symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, poor performance and fluid retention in the legs and ankles (edema).

Hypertension: how do you escape the high pressure heart?
In the long run, high blood pressure leads to a filling disorder in the left ventricle due to the thickening of the heart muscle and its loss of elasticity: too little blood is ejected into the body and the organism is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen and nutrients. Hypertension is the most common cause of diastolic heart failure (left ventricular filling disorder). In old age and with a damaged heart, high blood pressure can also trigger and exacerbate life-threatening acute heart failure. "Hypertension patients can best protect themselves from heart failure by consistently lowering their blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg, and patients over 80 years old are tolerated below 150/90 mmHg," advises the cardiologist. "The consequent lowering of elevated blood pressure values ​​through a healthy lifestyle, above all endurance exercise, reduction of excess weight and through consistent use of the blood pressure medication is a particularly effective prevention of chronic heart failure."

Heart failure from CHD: Time saved during a heart attack saves the heart muscle
In CHD, heart failure usually develops after multiple heart attacks or an extended heart attack and the resulting destruction of myocardial tissue. In order to prevent a heart attack, treatment of the CAD by medication, catheter surgery or bypass surgery is necessary to reactivate poorly perfused tissue and thus deprive the heart of the weak heart. If a heart attack occurs, medicine can minimize or even prevent damage to the heart due to the heart attack - provided treatment is done quickly. "The sooner we treat a heart attack patient in the clinic, the more heart pump power we can get. Therefore, if the heart attack alarm signals appear, the emergency doctor must be called immediately with emergency number 112, ”says Prof. Voigtländer.

Healthy lifestyle halves the risk of heart failure
Studies show that our current lifestyle is the main cause of CHD and at the same time is largely responsible for the development of high blood pressure. An observational study of more than 20,000 American doctors (Djoussé et al., JAMA 2009) showed that those participants who lived healthy (including body weight below 25 Body Mass Index (BMI), quit smoking, regular endurance activity five days a week, moderate alcohol consumption ) halved their risk of heart failure. A high genetic risk of heart attack and cardiac death can also be significantly reduced by a healthy lifestyle (Khera A., et al NEJM 2016). Therefore, everyone between the ages of 40 and 50, with an earlier family history, should have their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar checked regularly in order to identify the risk factors for heart diseases (high blood pressure, lipid metabolism disorders, diabetes) at an early stage. If these are treated in time, you protect yourself from heart attack, stroke and heart failure. (sb)

Tip: The guide "The weak heart: diagnosis and therapy of heart failure today" can be requested free of charge at or by phone at 069 955128400 or by email at [email protected] The volume provides easy-to-understand information about prevention and current diagnosis and treatment options for heart failure.

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