Heart Failure: How to Spot It & Prevent It

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February is American Heart Month. Dr. Alan Gass and Deputy Editor of Good Housekeeping Laurie Jennings shared important information about the condition and how to manage it.

Dr. Gass started with the basics and described what heart failure is and what some of the most common symptoms are.

"Heart failure is a chronic, progressive disease where the heart cannot pump enough blood throughout the body. The symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, swelling, palpitations, chest pain, but it can be as subtle as not feeling yourself or not being able to do the things that you used to do."

In recent years, treatment options have expanded.

"Entresto has been shown in a major heart failure trial to keep people out of the hospital and alive longer. Now Entresto may not be right for everyone so if you're pregnant or have a history of andreodema, you shouldn't use it. Like all medications, there could be side effects so it's really important to talk to your doctor about starting it."

In addition to medications, Jennings added there are lifestyle changes people can use to manage the condition.

"There are a few key lifestyle modifications people can make to help live a more heart-healthy lifestyle. The first thing is eating a low sodium diet so focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course you want to get some physical activity into your daily life whether that's walking, light household chores, gardening... even walking the dog is a good one."

Dr. Gass said if your symptoms are changing, more specifically if they're worsening or you've been hospitalized, it's time to talk to your doctor about medications.

And how can you make the most out of those appointments?

Jennings said you want to keep those appointments.

"You don't want to keep canceling and then rescheduling. You want to attend those appointments and you want to come prepared. That means perhaps writing down your symptoms, writing down some questions that you have for the doctor."

Head to entresto.com for more information.