Tom Brizuela has been suffering from congestive heart failure for the last 15 years. He says he has been in and out of the hospital too many times to count.
His enlarged heart struggles to pump enough blood throughout his body, so the 58-year-old tires easily.
"Sometimes I am out of breath when I walk out of my bedroom to the kitchen," he said.
Brizuela is one of 5 million people in the U.S. with heart failure. In a new policy statement, the American Heart Association says that number could spike 46 percent to 8 million in 2030 as baby boomers age.
"There are a number of risk factors for developing heart failure. These include things like being obese, high blood pressure, diabetes, older age," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a cardiologist at UCLA.
According to the American Heart Association, the costs to treat heart failure could more than double to $70 billion in less than 20 years. But Fonarow, the statement's co-author, says it's possible to reverse that trend.
"Prevention is really key. Heart failure can be prevented in many individuals if there is more appropriate early detection of those with risk factors for heart failure and aggressive treatment," Fonarow said.
Brizuela is staying positive while he waits for a new heart.
"I thank God for another day, another gift, a life," Brizuela said.
It could take up to three years for him to get a transplant.
The American Heart Association statement also calls for specialized training for health care professionals to meet the future demands of heart failure patients. It also suggests increasing hospice care to treat patients with the advanced form of the disease.
PO Box 4508