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The number of seniors over 65 who were hospitalized due to heart failure increased 131% from 1980 to 2006 according to a study released at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Session 2008. Heart failure is one of three cardiovascular diseases that effect the heart – the other being coronary disease and stroke. Heart failure was the only cardiovascular disease was the only one which showed an increase during the 26-year period and it was much higher in women than in men.

The following except from the report defines heart failure.

A chronic disease, heart failure occurs when any part of the heart muscle weakens and the heart can’t supply the body’s cells with enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood. Everyday activities can become very difficult due to fatigue and shortness of breath. An estimated 5.3 million Americans live with heart failure, and 660,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the American Heart Association.

As the number of seniors of 65 grows over the next decade or so, the "crisis is still yet to come" according to Dr. Longjian Liu, M.D., Ph.D., M.Sc., who authored the study. The key to preventing cardiovascular disease from becoming a national epidemic is prevention.

Heart failure can be caused by "high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, valvular heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity and lifestyle risk factors." The prevention of these causes is a heart healthy diet, exercise, quitting smoking, avoiding second hand smoke, maintaining a healthy weight and of course avoiding illegal drugs. For more information on preventing heart failure, visit the AMA’s website. It is also recommended that before your start any new diet or exercise program, you discuss it with your physician.

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