Medivision presents an excerpt from our 60 minute medical education video Management of Heart Failure: Secondary to Left Ventricular Systolic Disfunction, featuring Denise Drummond Hayes MSN, RN, CCRN from Allegheny University Hospitals.
The full length film, along with many other medical education titles, is available on VHS or DVD from health-e-mall.com and discusses the physicians need to differentiate between heart failure secondary to left-ventricular systolic dysfunction and heart failure secondary to left-ventricular diastolic dysfunction, describe the initial pharmacologic management for patients with heart failure in the setting of reduced left-ventricular systolic function, as well as the current AHCPR recommendations for patient and family education and counseling in reference to left - ventricular systolic dysfunction.
Older people living with heart abnormalities that could lead to heart failure may have never had those abnormalities diagnosed, meaning they miss out on treatments that could help. But deciding whether someone would benefit from taking these drugs in the last stages of life is also important.
The heart naturally gets weaker as people age, but scientists don't often study heart failure in the elderly. A new study looked at 375 people ages 87 to 89 in northeast England, and found that about one-third of them had a reduced ability to pump blood due to a left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Another 20 percent had a diastolic dysfunction; heart muscles that could not relax enough to allow the heart's chambers to fill with blood, which keeps the heart from pumping enough blood to the rest of the body.
These abnormalities increase as people age and develop cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. They can also lead to heart failure.
For 26 percent of the people in the study, the problems had never been diagnosed by a physician.
About 5.8 million Americans have heart failure according the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and as greater numbers of people age and survive heart attacks in Western countries it's possible that that number will grow.
Doctors say although the symptoms of these heart abnormalities seem common for older people, it's important that they not be dismissed as simply signs of "old age."
There are few treatment options for patients whose hearts don't relax enough to fill with blood, but patients whose hearts don't pump hard enough can take classes of drugs called beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, both of which increase the heart's ability to pump blood effectively. Those drugs come with side effects such as weakness, drowsiness or dizziness that may make it not feasible to give them to an older person.