Heart failure happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support the needs of your body. It’s a serious condition, but it’s not necessarily a death sentence.

More than a half a million people are diagnosed with congestive heart failure each year. Interventional cardiologist, Dr. Vijaya Velury, said there are different reasons a person could develop heart failure.

“There are different classes of heart failure,” said Dr. Velury. “We go from class 1 to class 4. At one point when you’re diagnosed with class 4 heart failure, the mortality is to be 50% in 6 months. It is worse than a lot of cancers.”

Some of the symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, and fatigue. Dr. Velury says once a patient notices these symptoms and heart failure is a possible diagnosis, deciding which type is next.

“One is what we call a systolic congestive heart failure, where the heart is weak and is not pumping enough,” said Dr. Velury. “And the second is diastolic heart failure where the heart does not relax well. So it does not feel very well so it cannot pump as a normal heart can.”

Some things a patient can do to help treat heart failure is eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising. Dr. Velury says reducing solid and fluid intake is also important.

“Depending on how bad the heart failure is the limit is about 1800 cc’s or 1500 cc’s,” said Dr. Velury. “People usually don’t realize how much food they’re consuming. So all liquids together, don’t consume more than 1800 cc’s.”

If lifestyle changes are not enough, there are medications like ACE inhibitors, Beta blockers, and Diuretics that can help.

“These days people are living a lot longer and medications are helping significantly,” said Dr. Velury. “We see people living 10, 20, 30, 50 years with heart failure.”

Dr. Velury says if you do have any of the symptoms we mentioned, to check with your doctor to get further testing done.