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New guidelines offer important recommendations to physicians working with patients who suffer from heart disease.

In early April, updated clinical practice guidelines (CPG) addressing heart failure were published by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.  The 2022 guidelines replace practice recommendations made in 2013 and 2017.

Heart disease and heart failure are a leading cause of disability and death worldwide.  As the organ that pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, the impact of heart disease on health is serious and sometimes fatal.  According to the most recent statistics, approximately 6.2 million adults have symptoms of heart failure, with heart failure listed on 13.4 percent of death certificates issued in the US in 2018.

When the inability of the heart to pump enough blood causes symptoms, patients may not understand edema, fatigue, or shortness of breath are related to heat disease. Heart failure is a chronic condition but can be managed with treatment like medication and lifestyle changes.  Conditions that can lead to the development of heart failure include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease, among others. A hallmark of the 2022 guidelines is a focus on preventing heart failure in people who are suffering early symptoms that could signal heart trouble ahead.

The guidelines describe four stages, A through D, that identify the progression of the disease and recommended treatment to avoid further decline or structural changes of the heart.  Dr. Paul Heidenreich, the Chair of the guideline writing committee notes, “One primary goal with the new guideline was to use recently published data to update our recommendations for the evaluation and management of heart failure, [a] focus was prevention of heart failure through optimizing blood pressure control and adherence to a healthy lifestyle.”

Study authors note there are approximately 121.5 million people in the US with high blood pressure, 100 million who suffer obesity, and 28 million with diabetes. These factors already place this portion of the US population in stage A at heightened risk for developing heart failure.

The guidelines are an important cornerstone for physicians treating cardiovascular disease in patients, and for physicians who may have patients at risk for developing heart failure or cardiovascular disease.  Patients understandably rely on their healthcare providers to understand these updated recommendations and to advise them on how best to prevent or manage a heart condition that may prove fatal without treatment.

If you have concerns about heart disease, talk to your doctor about how the new guidelines could help you prevent or deter damage that could lead to heart failure.

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