Synopsis: Heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart does not pump blood around the body efficiently. The body relies on the pumping action of the heart to deliver nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to each of its cells, which stop functioning properly when not received with adequate nourishment. Weakening of the heart leads to a person becoming tired and breathless and everyday activities become challenging. This is the point when the symptoms of a heart failure start showing and need to be understood and treated well within time. There are four stages of heart failure that require different treatment and lifestyle changes. With healthcare becoming digital, patients today are more empowered than ever before, making digital health solutions the need of the hour to keep up with an increasing number of patients participating in their own treatment decisions. DTx provides evidence-based software-driven therapeutic interventions for the prevention and management of a medical disorder or disease. Heart failure is a serious condition which worsens with time, and there is usually no cure. However, with the right treatment, people can still lead an enjoyable and productive life.
A very commonly used term and frightening too, heart failure, despite its name, does not mean that the heart has failed or stopped working. Rather, it simply means that the heart works less efficiently than normal. It is a quite common disease in both men and women, and a leading cause of hospitalization in people older than age 65. Also known as congestive heart failure, it occurs when your heart muscles do not pump blood as well as it should. In the medical language, it describes the inability or failure of the heart to meet the needs of organs and tissues for oxygen and nutrients. Owing to the decrease in cardiac output, the amount of blood that the heart pumps is not adequate to circulate the blood returning to the heart from the body and lungs, causing the fluid (mainly water) to leak from capillary blood vessels. Although the risk of heart failure does not change as you get older, it is more likely to occur with increasing age.
A few possible causes that lead to heart failure include narrowed arteries (coronary artery disease), high blood pressure, genetic conditions, drug side effects, and infections. Conditions that overwork the heart, such as valve disease, diabetes, obesity, anaemia, thyroid, kidney disease, and heart abnormalities by birth also add to the reason.
The body starts giving signals when the heart is getting weak and not pumping to its capacity. Signs and symptoms of heart failure often include shortness of breath, fatigue, pounding or racing heart, excessive tiredness, loss of appetite, and rarely, chest pain. There may be times that the symptoms are mild or non-existent. These can range from mild to severe and may come and go. 3. In general, heart failure is a chronic long-term condition worsens with time, and with that the signs or symptoms change. There are four stages of heart failure (Stage A, B, C and D), used to classify the severity of symptoms. These range from “high risk of developing heart failure” to “advanced heart failure”. Each stage reflects the severity of symptoms or the functional limits of the heart. As the condition gets worse, the heart muscle pumps less blood to the organs, moving toward the next stage of heart failure. Each stage requires a different approach to the treatment which may involve changes to medications, lifestyle behaviour and cardiac devices. The goal of treatment is to keep the patient from progressing through the stages or to slow down the progression.
You would be surprised to know that Heart failure is one of the few chronc conditions that incurs a huge cost on healthcare and the hospital readmission rates, specifically for HF patients. As per a Publication on National Library of Medicine, 5.7mn Americans are living with HF(2021) and the nummber of HF patients is projected to grow by 46% by 2030, a total of 8 million Heart Failure Patients. The toal cost of HF patients in 2012 was estimated to be $30.7 Bn in US. As per Medicare, the median risk-standardized 30 day Hospital readmissions rate was 23.0%. Thus 30 Day Heart Failure readmaissions reamins a focus in controlling the healthcare spend as it can be controlled.
Off late, what has helped in keeping in line with the Heart Failure Readmissions is a new category of medicine known as Digital therapeutics (DTx). An advancement from the traditional medical treatments, DTx are essential to healthcare delivery systems as they deliver medical interventions directly to patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software to treat, manage, and prevent a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders. DTx solutions help improve self care behaviors and medication adherence with personalized protocol driven care that impact better health outcomes for HF patients. Especially focused on people with chronic conditions like heart failures, DTx can play a vital role to help ensure the patients are adhering to the dose guidelines, leading to lower rates of hospitalisations and readmissions.
Heart failure is a serious condition, it may limit one’s activities and there is usually no cure. However, with the right treatment, people can still lead an enjoyable and productive life. Heart failure treatment includes lifestyle and diet changes, taking medications, and sometimes implanting devices. While diagnosis and treatments are the aftermath, heart failures can be prevented by making healthier choices such as addressing stress, being active, eating wise, and talking to your healthcare teams. At the end, it is important to learn about what heart failure is about, how to keep in good balance, and when to call the doctor.