Freeman Medical Focus: American Heart Month

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February is American Heart Month – a chance to highlight heart health and avoid heart attacks. But in many cases, even patients who experience heart failure can manage their condition with the right treatment.

“Heart failure is increased pressure inside the heart that backs up into the lungs and this has a variety of causes sometimes it’s due to the muscle not being strong enough to pump, sometimes the heart is too stiff to relax properly, sometimes valvular problems will do it,” says Dr. John Cox, Cardiology.

Symptoms can include breathlessness, swelling and fluid backup – signs patients should seek medical help.

“They can live a long time, it isn’t necessarily a death sentence. It is a serious condition, it requires their attention but yes I have a lot of people in my practice that lived a long time with that condition,” says Dr. John Cox.

Treatment can include medication and possible a valve repair. In mild cases, a patient may have few ongoing symptoms. But a more serious diagnosis may require daily monitoring and monthly checkups.

“They need to monitor their weight, monitor their sodium intake in food. Any new signs of more swelling, more breathlessness, worsening breathlessness when they lay down flat would be a reason for concern,” says Dr. Cox.

The Freeman Medical Focus was sponsored by Freeman Health System.

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