Is heart failure a death sentence? New study concludes that heart failure is treatable.

The words "heart failure" evoke images of death or at least imminent demise. Not so fast my friend, according to the author of a new study about heart failure.

First, what is heart failure?  Heart failure means that the heart is not pumping enough blood to meet the demands of the body.  In some cases, even with the best medical care, a patient's heart may be too damaged from a heart attack or a congenital malfunction, to successfully come out of heart failure.  However, new research shows that a diagnosis of heart failure is not nearly as grim as it was once considered.

The Framingham Heart Study is an ongoing study begun in 1948 that periodically issues reports about the risk factors for developing heart disease.  The study provided important findings about the risk of cigarette smoking cholesterol and high blood pressure, but its findings regarding the survival rates of persons diagnosed with heart failure was not as enlightening.

Many internet sites base their findings regarding the prognosis for persons with heart failure on the Framingham Heart Study.  The Heart Failure Society of America, for example, reported that less than 50 percent of persons diagnosed with heart failure are living five years after their initial diagnosis and less than 25 percent are alive at 10 years.

Contrary to these grim statistics, clinical studies in peer reviewed journals show that ACE inhibitors and beta blockers prolong lives of people with heart failure and in the last decade those medications have become standard recommended treatment.  Further, implanted defibrillators that prevent sudden death by shocking the heart when the heart goes into a chaoatic rhythm, and other treatments have improved the prognosis for people diagnosed with heart failure.

The Framingham Study was published before the modern therapy of ACE inhibitors and beta blockers which are proven to prolong life in heart failure.  The Framingham Study on heart failure deaths looked at deaths in decades reaching back to the 1950s.  In the two decades since the last Framingham Study in 1990, the methods of treating heart failure have improved significantly.

Heart failure is no longer the grim death sentence it was once thought to be.  With the right treatment, persons with heart failure can stabilize their condition and often improve the function of their heart.
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