Reducing the risk
Like a lot of illnesses, the risk of heart failure (HF) may be reduced by making better lifestyle choices1,2. This is important especially if you have a history of the disease in your family. Some of the following activities may help you to reduce the risk of HF1-4:
- Start an exercise plan – maintaining a regular exercise regime that isn’t too strenuous. Even mild exercise, such as walking, can help.
- Eat healthy foods and keep cholesterol low - this means plenty of fruit and vegetables, getting a good balance of protein and carbohydrates, and limiting your sodium intake.
- Monitor your blood pressure – high blood pressure may lead to a weakened heart muscle.
- Keep your bodyweight healthy – maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce the risk of developing HF. If you are overweight and are concerned about HF, look to reduce your weight through a diet and exercise regime.
- Don’t smoke – smoking can have a significant impact on the heart.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption – drinking too much alcohol can weaken the heart muscle.
You should always discuss changes such as these with your doctor.
Certain conditions can increase the risk of eventually having heart failure5. This happens when another medical condition causes wear and tear on the heart, possibly then resulting in HF. When this happens, it is known as a comorbidity referring to the presence of more than one disorder in the same person.
Some medical conditions that could lead to heart failure:
• Coronary artery disease
• Heart attack
• High blood pressure
• Abnormal heart valves
• Heart defects from birth
• Heart muscle disease
• Severe lung disease
• Severe anaemia
• Overactive thyroid
• Abnormal heart rhythm
If you have one or more of these conditions you may be at higher risk of HF. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce the risk.
- Mayo Clinic. Heart Failure. Available online at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373142. Last accessed August 25 2020
- Mayo Clinic. Strategies to prevent Heart Disease. Available online at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502. Last accessed 16 September 2020
- Hopkins Medicine. 7 Heart Benefits of Exercise. Available online at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/7-heart-benefits-of-exercise. Last accessed 16 September 2020.
- American Heart Association. Recommendations for Physical Activity. Available online at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults. Last accessed 16 September 2020.
- Ponikowski P, Anker SD, AlHabib KF, et al. Heart failure: preventing disease and death worldwide. ESC Heart Fail. 2014;1(1):4-25.