Heart Failure in Young People Could Cause Sudden Death if Ignored!


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If you are still under the impression that heart failure doesn’t affect the young then you are living in fantasy. Although heart failure primarily affects older people, the young are no longer an exception. Before going into details, let's know what heart failure is. 

Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the capacity of the heart to pump blood decreases significantly.  With the progression of the disease, the heart muscle weakens and enlarges. This further affects the ability of the heart to pump blood. Thus, an adequate amount of blood does not reach the different parts of the body. This also results in an insufficient supply of oxygen and food to the cells. It can also pose a potential threat to the patient’s life.

Can Heart Failure Patients Experience Sudden Death?

Heart failure is often associated with sudden and unexpected deaths. The main reason that can be attributed to this is the lack of awareness about the condition’s symptoms. As a result of which, people fail to seek timely help, especially young people. Clinically, when heart failure goes untreated in patients, a cascade of sudden and unwanted events takes place within the heart; thus, causing structural and functional changes. Additionally, genetic predisposition further contributes to the increased risk. The unfortunate confluence of diverse factors contributes to an electrically unstable heart and gradually causes sudden death in heart failure patients.

In India, it is estimated that heart failure prevails in 1% of the population (8 to 10 million people) and the estimated mortality rate is approximately 0.1–0.16 million individuals per year. These numbers are quite alarming. Therefore, it is crucial to spread awareness about the condition and its related symptoms. This will help people to immediately seek medical help on experiencing the symptoms.

Signs & symptoms of heart failure in young people

People with heart failure can present a variety of signs and symptoms, most of which are non-specific. 

Signs of heart failure

  • Cachexia (Muscle mass loss)
  • Tachycardia (Increased heart rate)
  • Pulsus alternans (Arterial pulse with alternating strong and weak beats)
  • Elevated jugular venous pressure (Elevated pulmonary capillary wedge pressure)
  • Crepitations or wheezing (Abnormal breath sounds)
  • Third heart sound (A very low-frequency vibration)
  • Oedema (Swelling in the ankles, feet and legs)
  • Hepatomegaly (Enlargement of the liver beyond its actual size)
  • Ascites (Accumulation of fluid within the peritoneal cavity)

Symptoms of heart failure

  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Sensation of breathlessness
  • A sensation of shortness of breath that awakens the person, often after 1 or 2 hours of sleep
  • Reduced exercise tolerance
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Nocturnal cough
  • Wheeze
  • Ankle swelling
  • Anorexia

Henceforth, it is advised not to ignore the slightest discomfort experienced by a person. This is the only way to reduce the number of deaths due to heart failure in young people


Tomaselli, G.F. and Zipes, D.P., 2004. What causes sudden death in heart failure?. Circulation research, 95(8), pp.754-763.

Chaturvedi, V., Parakh, N., Seth, S., Bhargava, B., Ramakrishnan, S., Roy, A., Saxena, A., Gupta, N., Misra, P., Rai, S.K. and Anand, K., 2016. Heart failure in India: the INDUS (INDia ukieri study) study. Journal of the practice of cardiovascular sciences, 2(1), p.28.

Watson, R.D.S., Gibbs, C.R. and Lip, G.Y.H., 2000. Clinical features and complications. Bmj, 320(7229), pp.236-239. 

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