World Heart Day 2022: Why symptoms of anemia and heart failure can dangerously overlap


Representational image. News18

Anemia is a condition when the body does not have enough oxygen in the blood circulation to meet the demand of the organs of our body. Heart failure is a condition when the heart fails to pump oxygenated blood adequately to the organs.

Anemia decreases the healthy red blood cells in your body circulation which can be measured by checking the haemoglobin levels. It is one of the common conditions seen in our Indian population, which largely results from nutritional deficiency. In heart failure, because the heart cannot pump adequately, one of the major organs which does not get enough blood is kidney, eventually leading to chronic kidney disease. When kidneys are damaged the production of erythropoietin, which is responsible for red blood cells production is also reduced. This leads to the development of anemia.

One should look out for symptoms like difficulty in breathing, fast heartbeat even when we are resting, feeling tired all the time, dizziness, pale skin colour etc. If you experience these symptoms consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor will evaluate clinically and have some tests done like complete blood count to identify the cause and decide on the treatment plan. Typically, anemia can be diagnosed from a reduction in hemoglobin <13.5 g/dL in men and <12.0 g/dL in women.

Anemia can be cured by treating specific deficiencies (for example, by taking foods or supplements which are rich in iron and vitamin B-12) or addressing the underlying cause. Heart failure can be delayed or prevented from getting worse, if one can keep their cholesterol levels in normal range, quit smoking, restrict alcohol, control their blood sugar and blood pressure and adhere to regular exercise, lifestyle modification and medications given by the doctor.

Anemia and heart failure are serious conditions which needs to be given attention at the earliest possibility, to prevent worsening of symptoms and subsequent hospitalization. Symptoms of anemia and heart failure may overlap, as many-a-times these two conditions co-exist. Treating anemia may lead to symptom relief in heart failure. If identified and treated early and following the doctor’s advice, one will get a chance to live a good quality life and prevent a lot of financial and mental burden.

The author is MBBS, DM – Cardiology, Diplomate in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiac Electrophysiologist, Medway Heart hospital Kodambakkam Chennai. Views are personal.

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