Heart failure is by no means an easy condition to deal with. The physical and emotional toll it can take on an individual and his/her family cannot be described. The worst part, for seniors especially who are already in the winter of their lives, is not knowing how much time they may have left after experiencing the condition. However, thanks to a new seven-point test, doctors may now be able to give patients a more accurate assessment of where they stand.
In a new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at how the simple, seven- point system could help doctors assess a patient’s risk of dying from heart failure. This new system can also help doctors decide on what course of action to take in order to meet each individual patient’s needs, such as surgery to implement pacemakers or implantable defibrillators.
And, in the case of patients who are at an extremely high risk of death, this system can allow them to bypass stressful surgeries and procedures, so they can enjoy the rest of their time with the least amount of pain and complications possible.
So, let’s look at the seven points that doctors can use to assess what a patient’s chances of survival are:
1) How advanced in years the patient is. 2) If the patient has a history of dementia, where the patient cannot care for him/herself as a result. 3) If the patient has coronary artery disease, which involves the narrowing and hardening of the heart’s arteries. 4) If the patient has peripheral vascular disease, which is much like coronary artery disease, but affects blood vessels that are not part of the heart’s or brain’s systems. 5) If the patient has a low amount of sodium in his/her blood, which indicates that he/she is suffering from a neurohormonal imbalance. 6) If the patient has a high amount of urea in the blood, which indicates he/she is experiencing poor cardiac output, leading to weakened kidney function. 7) If the patient has low blood pressure, which has occurred due to weak heart function.
In the United States, about five million people experience heart failure every year. The bad news is that seniors are at the highest risk of experiencing the condition. That’s a pretty staggering statistic if you think about it. If doctors can help ease the stress and trauma a patient experiences by assessing their condition and deciding whether or not continued treatment is necessary, they can not only save that person a lot of grief and pain, but they can also make a huge improvement on the state of the health care system as well.
Many therapies that are meant to prolong a patient’s life after heart failure may be in vain — and they are usually very costly, which makes things even worse. Saving the family the insurmountable cost of extra therapy that is unfortunately unneeded will at the very least help ease their grieving when the person does pass on.