PLANO, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Congestive heart failure is the most common diagnosis in hospital patients 65 and older, but it may come as a surprise to learn that more than 1 million of the 5 million Americans suffering from congestive heart failure are under the age of 60, and some even have symptoms decades earlier. Early diagnosis can make all the difference.
Fifty-nine year old Craig Young learned four years ago that his heart wasn't pumping right. When doctors told this competitive weight lifter he was suffering from congestive heart failure, he was blown away.
Power lifter and heart patient, Craig Young told Ivanhoe," When I was strong and was lifting the heavy weight, I felt like I could walk out in front of a semi, and I thought you know what, you're not going to hurt me."
Doctors say a virus may have weakened Craig's heart. It was pumping like that of an 80 year old with a weak heart.
Medical Director of the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic at the Heart Hospital Baylor in Plano Texas, David Rawitscher, MD told Ivanhoe, ""It's a lot younger than we typically see. Most of the time, congestive heart failure is a disease of people who are over 65."
But not always, because congestive heart failure is present in two percent of all Americans ages 40 to 59. Experts say those numbers have been steadily on the rise.
That's why doctors say everyone should know the symptoms. These include coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty exercising, and difficulty sleeping.
Craig also made dietary changes by reducing his salt intake to stop fluid buildup in his lungs.
Emily Hein, RD, LD Registered Dietician for the Advanced Cardiovascular Care at the Heart Hospital Baylor told Ivanhoe, "This is one teaspoon of salt, this is the maximum recommended for healthy people."
Craig is determined to maintain the dietary changes and he will continue to pump iron to keep his heart pumping strong.
Researchers say there are about half a million congestive heart failure cases each year. Half of those patients are hospitalized again within 6 months.