Elizabeth Taylor hospitalized

Dame Elizabeth Taylor has been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles this week for congestive heart failure. Her rep told People magazine that this was an “ongoing situation” and that “This issue is being addressed. She is currently being kept in the hospital for monitoring.” In October 2009, the 78-year-old Academy Award winning actress underwent a successful mitral valve clip procedure to repair a leaky heart valve.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) does not mean that your heart has stopped. It does mean that the heart is unable to pump enough blood to totally fulfill the oxygen needs of the body. Over 5 million Americans suffer from CHF, and over 300,000 die of this disease each year. There are many causes of CHF- all of which affect the ability of the heart to pump effectively. The leading causes are:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)- Narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood. This can lead to chest pain (angina) and heart attacks, which affect the heart’s ability to pump as strongly.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)- Causes the heart to have to work harder to expel blood from the heart. Over time this damages the heart muscle.
  • Cardiomyopathies- Toxins or infections that damage and weaken the heart muscle.
  • Faulty heart valves
  • Heart birth defects
  • Abnormal heart rhythms.

The symptoms of congestive heart failure include:

CHF is a chronic disease, needing lifelong treatment, but treatment can greatly improve the quality of life for patients. Treatment is obviously dependent on the cause of the CHF and only your doctor can determine what the most appropriate treatment for you.

For more information about congestive heart failure, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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