UNDATED (WJRT) -
(08/11/14) - Congestive heart failure is the most common diagnosis in hospital patients 65 and older, but it may come as a surprise to learn more than 1 million of the 5 million Americans suffering from congestive heart failure - are under the age of 60.
Some have symptoms decades earlier, and an early diagnosis can make all the difference.
Early diagnosis can be the key, but adjusting your lifestyle might also save your life.
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.
"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,'" he said.
Doctors say a virus may have weakened Young's heart. It was pumping like that of an 80 year old with a weak heart.
"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," said David Rawitscher, MD, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.
Congestive heart failure is present in two percent of all Americans age 40 to 59. Experts say those numbers have been steadily on the rise. That's why doctors say everyone should know the symptoms - coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty exercising and difficulty sleeping.
Young also made dietary changes - reducing his salt intake to stop fluid build up in his lungs. He is determined to maintain the dietary changes and he'll keep pumping iron to keep his heart pumping strong.
Researchers say there are about half a million new congestive heart failure cases each year. Half of those patients are hospitalized again within six months.