Marc Bains was an lively 23-year-old when he got what he thought was the flu or bronchitis.
He couldn’t climb the steps without getting out of breath. When he finally made it as much as his bed, he couldn’t lie down flat without coughing.
When he began getting chest pains, he went to the ER in Richmond, B.C.
After a series of tests, his doctor told him he had heart failure.
“It was shocking,” said Bains, who’s now 37.
“My life essentially stopped where everyone’s life kept going.”
Heart failure implies that the guts can’t pump out enough blood to flow into fresh oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, actually because the muscle has grow to be either too weak or too stiff, said Patrice Lindsay, director of health systems on the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Heart failure normally affects people much older than Bains – and because the population ages, it’s grow to be “a serious Canadian health issue,” she said.
There are lots of causes or underlying risk aspects for heart failure, in keeping with the inspiration.
Even though it’s excellent news that more persons are surviving heart attacks, the resulting damage to the guts muscle puts them at higher risk for heart failure. Coronary artery disease and hypertension are other common causes.
Heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), heart valve disease and viral infections that attack the guts may also cause heart failure.
About 750,000 persons are currently living with the condition in Canada, with about 100,000 recent cases diagnosed every yr.
Yet many individuals don’t understand what heart failure is or recognize the symptoms, said Dr. Stephanie Poon, cardiologist and heart failure specialist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
Probably the most common symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue and swelling within the legs and abdomen on account of severe fluid retention, Poon said.
Those symptoms are supposed to be replicated with a recent heart failure “suit,” developed by the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Germany, together with pharmaceutical firms Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly.
The businesses are touring the suit to hospitals across Canada with the aim of raising awareness amongst media, health-care providers and caregivers in regards to the symptoms of heart failure — and what it’s wish to live with them.
The “suit” is comprised of leg weights to mimic the issue of walking, especially up and down stairs, when the ankles, feet and legs are swollen; a chest vest, topped with a big water pack, to simulate the pressure a patient feels on their chest when lying down and the additional weight they carry; and a mask that makes it difficult to breathe. The suit also incorporates wrist weights so as to add to the general feeling of fatigue.
Poon tried on the suit and said she hopes other doctors and caregivers will do the identical.
“(The suit) allows people to get a hands-on experience of what our patients with heart failure are going through on a day-to-day basis in a way that no words could ever describe to you,” Poon said.
“I’m a health-care provider, a heart failure specialist. I do know to the Nth degree the best way to list off those symptoms but once I tried on the suit it was just eye-opening as to how much it could truly impact your day-to-day activities.
“Easy things like you’re taking as a right. Walking up the steps. Tying your shoes. You realize, I couldn’t even imagine attempting to do laundry like that,” she said.
“But additionally because the suit got here off and the components got here off, just realizing how much of a relief that you could actually get when you’re diagnosed early, began on the precise medications … you’ll be able to start feeling higher almost instantaneously.”
Bains, who co-founded a patient support and advocacy group called HeartLife, said he hopes the suit helps generate more public awareness in regards to the signs and symptoms, noting it might be an “invisible disease.”
There are likely many Canadians who’ve heart failure but haven’t been diagnosed, he said.
Trying on the simulation suit could also go a good distance in fostering an “empathetic approach” to care, Bains said.
“You’re drained quite a bit. You realize, your heart’s not pumping as well so your body’s not getting the blood and oxygen that it needs. And so that you’re fatigued.”
There isn’t any cure for heart failure but the precise medications may also help alleviate the symptoms, Poon said.
Those medications include angiotensin receptors (ARNI), angiotensin blockers/ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, mineralocorticoid antagonists and SGLT inhibitors, she said. They’re used to make the guts pump more normally and eliminate the additional water weight patients are carrying.
Depending on how much damage there may be to the guts, some people need implanted pacemakers or defibrillators.
With medication and an implanted defibrillator (which shocks the guts back into a traditional pumping rhythm if it starts to fail), Bains was in a position to work, play sports and travel again.
But family and friends need to grasp that heart failure patients must stay vigilant about their condition, he said.
“You look up a spot to go overseas, it’s not about attractions, it’s about where are the precise hospitals to go to if something were to occur,” Bains said.
Bains’ family and friends all learned to perform CPR after he was diagnosed, he said — and he needed to be resuscitated 4 times.
Lindsay of the Heart and Stroke Foundation said family and friends may also support heart failure patients by realizing they’ll have good days and bad days. Sometimes they may have the ability to do normal activities, but other times they could must rest, she said.
Bains was one in all about 10 per cent of patients who had “advanced heart failure” — and so he was placed on a transplant list. He got a recent heart in 2018 and not suffers from heart failure symptoms.
Advanced heart failure “implies that conventional heart failure therapies and symptom management strategies aren’t any longer working; we start desirous about giving people heart transplants only once they’ve reached the advanced heart failure stage,” said Poon, who shouldn’t be Bains’ cardiologist.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2023.
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