Congestive heart failure affecting younger patients, but can be managed

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Ruby Rogers makes regular visits to the doctor. She has congestive heart failure or CHF.  She says, "sometimes I just have to stop and catch my breath and keep on going."

Shortness of breath is a common symptom because the heart isn't pumping the way it should. Like so many people with heart failure, Ruby manages her disease with medicines.

Baton Rouge doctor Lance LaMotte is her cardiologist.  He told WAFB Medical Correspondent Phil Rainier, "most of the medicines are geared not only to improve symptoms, but to improve survival."

LaMotte is happy new treatments have dramatically improved the long-term outlook for CHF patients.  What concerns him is the explosion of heart failure cases in people who are younger age.

"65 and over it's certainly extremely common, but that trend has shifted lower," said Dr. LaMotte.

Today it's not unusual to be diagnosed with CHF in their 40's or 50's. Experts blame the obesity epidemic and related conditions like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol for the trend.

Doctors would rather prevent heart failure, but once it's been caught they say there's no reason people like Ruby can't live an active life as long as they're being treated.

Ruby agrees, "I do everything. I clean my own house - no assistance, and I cook."

Like any disease, the sooner congestive heart failure is diagnosed the more effective the treatment will be.

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