“I count every day as a gift. I don't know how long I'll live, but as long as I'm alive I want to be active and productive”, says a determined Cynthia, who lives with a form of heart failure. Cynthia is not alone, heart failure affects approximately 26 million people worldwide1 and this is estimated to increase by 46% by 20302.
Having heart failure means that the heart is unable to pump blood around the body as effectively as it should. Therefore, the heart cannot support the body’s need for blood and oxygen3,4. Heart failure does not mean that the heart has stopped working, but that it needs some support to help it work more effectively.
How Ejection Fraction affects Heart Failure
There are two types of heart failure: Heart Failure with reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF) and Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF). The first, HFrEF, occurs because part of the heart loses its ability to contract normally, meaning the heart cannot pump with sufficient force to push enough blood into circulation5. Conversely, HFpEF occurs when part of the heart stiffens and loses its ability to relax normally. This means the heart can't properly fill with blood during the resting period between each beat5.
HFpEF is life-altering, and I try to make sure that I am respectful of what the disease process is doing to my body without giving myself up to the disease.
Cynthia is one of the nearly 13 million people with HFpEF1. When she was diagnosed with HFpEF, her cardiologist described it to her as: “Your heart is small and it's hardening, it doesn't let the blood in to get out to your body. That's why you cough and have all these lung-like symptoms."
Nearly half of all patients with heart failure have HFpEF and this is expected to increase in the developed world6. This increase is likely caused by the increasing prevalence of common risk factors including older age, high blood pressure, renal dysfunction and obesity7.