Best Life: Know how to spot the symptoms of heart failure

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 8:54 AM CDT
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TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Heart failure affects 6.2 million adults in the United States. But many don’t even know they have it. In fact, they think it could be something else. Ivanhoe has the symptoms you may be ignoring.

Stan DeFreitas’ story is speckled with sunshine. For decades, he’s been known as Mr. Green Thumb, a nationally known gardener with radio and tv shows.

“Plants … I know. Horticulture … I know. A little bit of radio and television … I think I know. But when it came to signs of heart problems, I didn’t know,” shared DeFreitas.

What a shock when he ended up with heart failure on the waiting list to get a heart transplant. And yes, he was still gabbing about gardening from his hospital bed.

“Without plant material, we wouldn’t be here,” said DeFreitas.

Same goes for a heart. But like many, he ignored what could have been deadly signs.

Siva Kumar, MD, a transplant cardiologist at Tampa General Hospital, stated, “No matter what all the different insults are to the heart muscle, it all leads to the heart failure.”

Insults like alcohol, high blood pressure, unaddressed thyroid issues, and smoking. But the symptoms are many times mistaken for something else.

“Some patients will have a cough, so they think they have bronchitis,” continued Dr. Kumar.

Kumar also said abdominal distention, not being able to bend down and tie shoes, and lightheadedness can also be mistaken for something else when in fact it is heart failure.

“The moment you’re not getting better, the next step is to make sure your heart is okay,” said Dr. Kumar.

“I was like a river in Egypt. I was in denial,” exclaimed DeFreitas.

For Mr. Green Thumb, well he had to get a new heart. But now he’s hoping to plant seeds for others so their story doesn’t get cut short like his almost did.

Dr. Kumar said mechanical hearts are also used for patients with heart failure. But he says it all depends on the patient’s situation. He said usually when patients are treated for heart failure, 90 percent of the time they are treated with medication and there is a dramatic response. And one more thing … Mr. Green Thumb is writing a book called A Heart for Gardening.

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