Her Common Cold Symptoms Turned into THIS Unexpected Disease
Jessica Fournier never expected to be diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) and cardiomyopathy at the age of twenty-five. Her story of getting this unexpected disease started with a common cold and what she believed to be asthma symptoms. A sharp, throbbing pain brought her to the emergency room where she received surgery for a blood clot that almost caused the loss of her leg.
Within a year she deteriorated to the point that a heart transplant was needed. Testing revealed that a rare, incurable disease known as Mitochondrial disorder had attacked her heart muscle, causing her to go into congestive heart failure. She is currently managing the disorder with medication and is living a fairly normal life. Still, she and her family are shocked that something like CHF could affect a relatively healthy person in their twenties.
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Congestive heart failure can impact men, women, and even children of any age and any walk of life. The condition is chronic and has no cure, but symptoms can be regulated with medication and lifestyle changes. Recognizing the symptoms and knowing when to mention them to your physician can help to ensure that testing occurs and life-enhancing treatment is received early enough to make a difference.
According to the American Heart Association, nearly six million Americans are affected by heart failure. The condition is caused when the heart is unable to pump an adequate supply of blood, allowing it to back up into the lungs, abdomen, and legs. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, swelling in the legs and ankles, excessive fatigue, persistent coughing, sudden weight gain, bulging neck veins, heart palpitations and irregular pulse.
Many people feel that they aren’t at risk for heart failure because they are young or physically fit. This is a common and dangerous misconception about this unexpected disease. Congestive heart failure can strike anyone, even those with no obvious risk factors. According to Emory Healthcare, almost 1.4 million people with CHF are under 60 years of age, and it is present in two percent of people between the ages of 40 to 59.
Heart failure can be caused by genetic disorders or may be hereditary. Lifestyle factors like smoking, eating a diet high in fat or cholesterol, inactivity, and obesity may contribute to the likelihood of developing CHF. The U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that there is also a strong link between depression and heart disease. Taking care of physical and mental health are important factors in avoiding congestive heart failure.
The condition occurs more commonly in men, but women are more likely to die when the condition goes untreated. Congestive heart failure is a serious disorder with no cure. It can be difficult to live with, but drugs can help to ease symptoms and prolong life. Major lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, getting moderate exercise, and quitting smoking can also help to manage the condition. If this is ineffective, surgery such as angioplasty, coronary bypass, or a heart transplant may be needed.
Early diagnosis and treatment can provide a better quality of life, and there are now more options for better genetic testing and the recognition of genetic abnormalities. If CHF is suspected, an echocardiogram (EKG) is most likely to be ordered. A chest x-ray, MRI, stress-test, or physical exam may also occur. If you suspect congestive heart failure, it’s important to mention it to your doctor even if he or she does not suggest that this could be an issue. Always be honest about your symptoms and family history.
Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is one step towards avoiding congestive heart failure, but it’s not enough. It is important that individuals know that they are not immune to the condition and remember that the symptoms of this unexpected disease are often mistaken for other less serious conditions. Those with a family history of heart disease, immunodeficiency, or other disorders should be extra vigilant and be sure to communicate with their doctor when symptoms arise.