Heart Failure - Myths

Some myths about heart failure.

The following statements are not true.

  1. Heart failure means the heart has stopped working.
    • In heart failure, the heart continues to work; just that it is unable to work hard enough to meet the body’s metabolic demands.

  2. Once heart failure sets in, there is no cure and the heart will never recover.
    • With proper treatment, the heart function and the body’s metabolic demands can be balanced. Many patients with chronic heart failure are able to live relatively normal lives and are able to carry out most activities that a non-heart failure person can do. Heart failure due to certain conditions such as myocarditis and high blood pressure can be reversed.

  3. I can stop taking my heart failure medicines when I feel well.
    • You should not stop any of your heart failure medications without instructions from your doctor, case/care manager, nurse or pharmacist.
    • Although you may feel well, the medications prevent the heart failure condition from getting worse. They also prevent other serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke and sudden death from developing.

  4. I must not exercise when I have heart failure.
    • It is very important for people with heart failure to exercise provided they are stable and relatively free from symptoms.
    • It is also important not to overdo the exercise. Let your symptoms guide you when you exercise, and rest when you feel breathless, fatigue or dizzy. The right amount of exercise can help to improve blood flow, increase stamina and strengthen your muscles.

  5. Heart failure is a disease of the elderly.
    • Although heart failure is more common among the elderly, it can affect young people and even children.

  6. Heart failure cannot be prevented.
    • While it is true that some causes of heart failure such as cardiomyopathy and myocarditis cannot be entirely prevented, many causes of heart failure can be prevented. These include heart failure caused by heart attacks, high blood pressure, alcohol and drugs.
    • By controlling diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, smoking cessation, maintaining ideal weight, keeping physically active and other measures, the risk of heart attack and heart disease can be reduced, thereby reducing the risk of heart failure as well.

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