(NewsUSA) - A majority of Americans underestimate the prevalence and severity of heart failure, according to a survey by Boston Scientific Corp., a developer and manufacturer of medical devices.
Although heart conditions are the leading cause of hospitalization for Americans 65 and older, Boston Scientific's survey found that the majority of Americans believe otherwise. In fact, more than half believe that the common cold, flu, accidents, falls, infections and afflictions such as Alzheimer's disease top the list for hospitalizations.
The survey of more than 1,000 adults in the U.S. also found that most Americans have misconceptions about the functioning of heart disease. For instance, three out of four Americans incorrectly believe that heart failure occurs when blood flow is blocked or when the heart has stopped beating.
Heart failure is actually a condition in which the heart weakens and gradually loses the ability to pump blood effectively. Nearly 22 million people worldwide, including approximately 5.5 million Americans, currently suffer from heart failure, which experts say represents the most rapidly growing cardiovascular disorder.
"Heart failure will affect an increasing number of Americans in the foreseeable future," said John Russell, vice president and general manager of patient management at Boston Scientific's Cardiac Rhythm Management Group. "The public needs to know how to successfully manage it if they or a loved one are diagnosed with heart failure."
An increasing number of heart failure patients receive an implanted defibrillator device to help treat their problem. For these patients, symptoms can be tracked as often as daily via wireless technology. Boston Scientific's Latitude Patient Management system, for example, was the first product approved by the Food and Drug Administration for such wireless home monitoring.
Available as optional components to the Latitude system are a weight scale and blood pressure cuff, which also make use of wireless communications. Closely tracking blood pressure and weight are two of the key factors to monitoring heart failure once diagnosed, as increases in these health measurements can be indicators of a worsening condition.
The Latitude system keeps tabs on a patient's weight and blood pressure and can detect changes, which enables physicians to intervene earlier in a patient's care.
For patients, systems such as Latitude can offer daily assurance and peace of mind knowing that specific heart failure symptoms can be monitored on a regular basis from the convenience of their homes.