In many cases, the condition gradually worsens and eventually may contribute to the patient's death.
As with any other illness, the most effective treatment of heart failure is prevention. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, the factors influencing heart failure were studied in a group of 14,700 black and white men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. They were followed for an average of 17.6 years.
Five major modifiable risk factors for heart failure were identified, including diabetes, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.
Much to their surprise, the most frequent risk factor leading to heart failure was diabetes. They noted that a reduction in the risk of diabetes by a few percentage points led to a substantially lower incidence of heart failure.
The benefits were far greater for blacks than whites, but the reason for the ethnic difference is not clear. They suggest the small reductions in the prevalence of diabetes has the potential to prevent 30,000 cases of heart failure annually.
Diabetes does not cause heart failure by itself. Rather, it makes all of the other risk factors, such as high levels of cholesterol and triglyceride, hypertension and obesity, much worse and more dangerous. Reducing the risk of diabetes reduces the effects of all of the other risk factors.
The prevalence of heart failure is truly staggering and remains an enormous epidemic that receives too little attention.
No question staying healthy, maintaining a reasonable weight, not smoking and treating hypercholesterolemia will together decrease the prevalence of adverse effects of diabetes that is first and foremost the greatest risk factor for heart failure.
Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking The Rules Of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. More information is available at: DrDavidHealth.com.
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