According to Center for Disease Control, “Epidemiology is the study of patterns of disease and injury in human populations and the application of this study to the control of health problems. Epidemiologists study the variation of disease in relation to age, sex, race, occupational and social characteristics, and place of residence, susceptibility, exposure to specific agents or other pertinent characteristics. Epidemiologists develop and evaluate hypotheses about the effects on human health of hereditary, behavioral, environmental, and health care factors, and develop the knowledge basis for disease prevention and control programs” (2012). According to Arkansas Department of Health, “cardiovascular diseases rank as America’s #1 killer, claiming the lives of over 33.6% or 1 out of every 3 Americans who died in 2007. It is estimated that approximately 82.6 million American adults have 1 or more types of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This includes coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, congenital heart defects and other diseases of the circulatory system.” The estimated overall cost of cardiovascular disease in the United States in 2010 was $444 billion dollars, which includes direct medical costs and indirect costs due to disability and death (2012).
What is heart failure? Just the name “heart failure” sounds frightening. Heart failure does not mean the heart has failed or stopped beating. Heart failure means that the heart’s pumping power is weaker than a normal person’s heart (not pumping as effectively as it should be). Heart failure can be right or left sided and usually occurs over a long period of time. The heart enlarges, increases in muscle mass and pumps faster to compensate. Although your heart still beats, a weakened heart pumps too little blood rich with oxygen and nutrients’ to meet the body’s needs. Walking, carrying groceries or climbing up a flight of stairs can be a difficult task. A person then may feel short of breath, which in turn means the body is not absorbing all the oxygen which is required to sustain a normal life.
The most common causes of heart failure are listed below:
Abnormal heart rhythms Coronary artery disease Cardiomyopathy Diabetes Heart defects from birth Heart valve disorder Hypertension Myocardial infarction Severe Anemia Severe lung disease Overactive thyroid
Understanding how a person’s heart works will help a person understand there disease process better and understand why the health care workers have developed a specific plan of care for each specific patient. Blood moves through all four chambers of the heart. There are two upper chambers called the atriums’ and two lower chambers called the ventricles’ which pumps the blood through the heart then circulates it through our systems. “Each time the heart beats there is a return of non-oxygenated blood which is returned to the heart which enters through the right atrium then down to the right ventricle. At the same time to oxygen rich blood from the lungs enters the left atrium and then goes down to the left ventricle. Then the blood from the right side of the heart goes into the lungs to receive oxygen and at the same time the blood from the left side of the heart is pumped out and delivers blood to the rest of the body” (www.hyperahajournals.org). By the time heart failure has been diagnosed the heart has lost some of its pumping capacity. The heart is a muscle and when the muscle is not used properly then it begins to weaken. Here are some of the signs and symptoms to watch for: * Dyspnea when lying flat in bed. May need to sleep with two pillows. * Shortness of breath with exertion * Waking up breathless at night, anxious tired