The signs and symptoms of heart failure

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Born on April 16, 1921 in Swiss Cottage, London, Sir Ustinov drew his final breath on March 28, 2004, in Switzerland. Best known for his role as detective Hercule Poirot in the 1978 movie, Death On The Nile, the superstar lived till the age of 82. During his lifetime, his credentials included Spartacus (1960), Billy Budd (1962), and Logan’s Run (1976).

He was a beloved playwright, author of more than a dozen books, and a British raconteur.

In his later life, Sir Ustinov was confined to a wheelchair due to a weak heart and diabetes, the New York Times reported.

Sir Ustinov’s son, Igor, told Reuters that his father’s death “was not a surprise”.

Igor elaborated: “He was pretty ill. He had had a busy life and he was tired… but he certainly was not ready to go.”

The multi-talented entertainer, who was knighted by the late Queen Elizabeth II, died from heart failure.

As explained by the NHS, “heart failure means that the heart is unable to pump blood around the body properly”.

Most typically, this is because the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff, which tends to get worse over time.

Symptoms of heart failure:

  • Breathlessness after activity or at rest
  • Feeling tired most of the time and finding exercise exhausting
  • Feeling lightheaded or fainting
  • Swollen ankles and legs.

Some people could experience a persistent cough, a fast heart rate, and dizziness.

“Heart failure is often the result of a number of problems affecting the heart at the same time,” the NHS says.

Conditions that can lead to heart failure include: heart disease, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and damage to the heart valves.

Risky factors that could lead to heart failure include: obesity, anaemia, drinking too much alcohol, an overactive thyroid, and pulmonary hypertension.

Once a person has heart failure, the condition can severely limit the activities a person can do.

Eventually, over time, as Sir Ustinov experienced, heart failure can be fatal.

The “unpredictable” nature of the disease means that it’s very difficult to tell how the condition will progress for somebody individually.

Sir Ustinov’s wife, Helene de Lau, soon followed the footsteps of her husband, passing away less than two months later.

How to prevent heart failure

The best way to minimise the risk of developing heart failure is to lead a healthy lifestyle.

In order to do so, it’s important to maintain or reach a healthy weight, which can be achieved through a combination of exercise and a healthy diet.

Weight loss requires burning more calories than you consume on a daily basis.

Sir Peter Ustinov starred in the film Death On The Nile, which is showcasing on Thursday, December 29 on BBC Two at 4.15pm.

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