John is a father and veteran who lives with severe heart failure. This is John’s perspective on how he continues to pursue his passions.
Heart failure complications hospitalize more Americans per year than all cancers combined6,7,8
Despite the name, heart failure doesn’t mean the heart isn’t working at all, it means the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body’s cells and organs.1 With heart failure, over time the heart tries to compensate by stretching, enlarging and pumping faster to keep up with the body’s demands, and it becomes weaker as a result. Heart failure is the consequence of dysfunction within the sarcomere, a complex mechanism of interacting proteins driving heart contraction.
There are two major types of heart failure: heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). Ejection fraction is a percentage measurement of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out of the heart with each contraction. A healthy heart has an ejection fraction between 50-70%, but someone with HFrEF has an ejection fraction of 40% or less.2
An estimated 6 million people in the U.S. are living with heart failure—and that number is predicted to increase to more than 8 million Americans by 2030.1 Roughly half of those with heart failure have HFrEF, and this population is also expected to grow from 3.1 million in 2020 to 4.0 million in 2032.3 These skyrocketing numbers may be attributed to several factors—an aging population, the epidemics of diabetes and obesity, and medical advances that help people survive heart attacks but face higher risk for heart failure afterwards.2
Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization and readmission in people aged 65 and older,5 and each additional hospitalization is associated with an increased risk of death.4 People with heart failure may experience fatigue, shortness of breath during daily activities, edema or swelling in the feet, legs, ankles or stomach, or weight gain. Every day, they may struggle with simple activities like walking, climbing stairs, or carrying things, and managing the disease can be a challenge.