NIHSeniorHealth (www.NIHSeniorHealth.gov) now offers information about the prevention, detection, and treatment of heart failure, a health condition that affects roughly 5 million older Americans. Designed especially for seniors, NIHSeniorHealth is a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Heart failure tends to be more common in men than in women, but because women usually live longer, the condition affects more women in their 70s and 80s. Blacks are more likely than whites to have heart failure and to suffer more severely from it. It is the number one reason people over age 65 are hospitalized.
In heart failure, the heart cannot pump enough blood through the body. Over time as the pumping action of the heart gets weaker, blood and fluid back up into the lungs and fluid builds up in the feet, ankles, and legs. People with heat failure often experience fatigue and shortness of breath. Heart failure is caused by a number of diseases and conditions that damage the heart muscle, including coronary artery disease. People who have had a heart attack are at high risk of developing heart failure. Diabetes and high blood pressure also contribute to heart failure risk.
“There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart failure,” says Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which developed the content for the heart failure topic on the NIHSeniorHealth Web site. “For example, it is important to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure levels healthy, keep your diabetes in check, lose weight if you are overweight, eat right, don’t smoke, and get regular physical activity.”
One of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, older Americans increasingly turn to the World Wide Web for health information. In fact, 66 percent of “wired” seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online. NIHSeniorHealth, which is based on the latest research on cognition and aging, features short, easy-to-read segments of information that can be accessed in a variety of formats, including large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos, and even an audio version. Additional topics coming soon to the site include heart attack, clinical trials, and falls and fractures. The site links to MedlinePlus, NLM’s premier, more detailed site for consumer health information.
The NIA leads the Federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals. The NHLBI supports research in diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lung, and blood, and sleep disorders. All three are components of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.