Heart failure is the leading cause of admission to hospital and one of the health problems that is growing as people live longer. The head of the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Unit at the Bellvitge University Hospital and researcher at the Cardiovascular Diseases group at IDIBELL, Nicolás Manito, spoke about heart failure on May 7 in the library of Bellvitge, to a general audience, mostly neighbourhood residents.
Manito began his conference explaining the anatomy of the heart, a muscle that pumps the blood throughout the body and ensures oxygenation in the lungs. The cardiologist compared the nerves that control movement with electric cables heart and arteries, with pipes that distribute blood throughout the body.
The doctor emphasized the risk factors leading to heart failure. There are not modifiable ones, such as hereditary factors, age and gender (men are more likely to suffer it). There are also modifiable factors, and in this sense Manito stressed that “we can do a lot to reduce the risk of heart disease.” Obesity, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity are modifiable factors related to heart disease, which can lead to blockage of the coronary arteries. If the obstruction is not complete, an angina may happen. If it is, a heart attack occurs. The consequences are manifested in the form of heart failure because the heart can no longer pump blood properly.
When the disease appears, risk factors must be avoided and exercise is necessary. “Years ago, the doctors use to recommend resting, but now the advise is having an active lifestyle”, said the cardiologist. “A person with heart failure can not do a marathon but can walk, cycle, run in moderation or swim”, said Manito. “Another recommendation is to reduce the intake of salt, sugar and fat and, contrary to what many people think, even some doctors, of water. Another risk factor that must be avoided is the stress. Specialist’s recommendation: “lead a physically active and mentally relaxed lifestyle”.
In addition to reducing risk factors, the Bellvitge cardiologist said that in recent years there have been developed new drugs that control symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients.
There are times, however, that the medication has no effects. In these cases, a heart transplant is necessary. Manito said that “more and more we are transplanting sicker patients” and “one in three transplants is urgent”. Until it reaches the transplantation, it is often necessary to place a mechanical heart, which significantly improves the quality of life of patients. Manito stressed that these devices are getting smaller and “are saving the performing of transplants”. Manito emphasizes that the main problem with these devices is their cost, which reaches one hundred thousand Euros, which “is limiting their use”.