Heart Failure

According to government statistics, the average age of onset for heart failure in Singapore is at 50 years old, compared to 60 years old in Western countries.

Heart failure occurs when the heart becomes too weak or too stiff to pump blood efficiently around the body. The chambers of the heart may respond to injury or stress by enlarging to hold more blood to pump through the body or by becoming thickened.

This helps to keep the blood moving, but the heart muscle walls may eventually weaken and become unable to pump as efficiently, causing the body to retain fluid (water) and salt. If fluid builds up in the arms, legs, ankles, feet, lungs, or other organs, the body becomes congested, and “Congestive Heart Failure” is the term used to describe the condition.

Heart failure is one of the leading causes of recurrent hospitalisation and reduced life expectancy in the world. Quality of life is also reduced in a heart failure patient.

The usual and common signs of heart failure are:

  • Shortness of breath on exertion​
  • Shortness of breath on lying flat​
  • Waking up in the middle of the night feeling out of breath​
  • Lower limb swelling​
  • Abdominal swelling​
  • Facial swelling​
  • Nausea, abdominal bloatedness, poor appetite​

Most often, heart failure is caused by another medical condition that damages your heart. Here are some conditions that can cause heart failure.

  • Coronary artery disease and Heart Attack​
  • Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscles)​
  • High Blood Pressure​
  • Heart Valve Disease​
  • Alcoholism and Drug Abuse​

To diagnose heart failure, doctors will often perform a physical exam and run a variety of tests, including:

  • Blood tests​
  • ECG
  • Imaging tests like an echocardiogram or MRI​

Treatment for heart failure may include medications to improve heart function and manage symptoms, and in some cases, surgery or implantation of a device like a pacemaker or defibrillator. Patients with advanced heart failure who experience significant limitations in their daily activities may require an Artificial Heart Pump (known as Ventricular Assist Device) or heart transplant to improve their symptoms and survival.  

In addition to medical treatment, there are a number of steps people with heart failure can take to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. These include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress through relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.

Overall, early detection and management of heart failure is key to preventing serious complications and improving outcomes for those living with the condition. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of heart failure, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the best course of treatment. Alternatively, you can also book a screening appointment with us to identify if you are at risk of heart failure.

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