COLUMBIA (WACH) --- 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,?? says Craig Young.
Doctors say a virus may have weakened Craig??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,?? says Dr. David Rawitscher, Heart Hospital Baylor
But not always, because congestive heart failure is present in two percent of all Americans ages 40 to 59. Experts say those numbers have been steadily on the rise.
That??s why doctors say everyone should know the symptoms. These include coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty exercising, and difficulty sleeping.
Craig also made dietary changes by reducing his salt intake to stop fluid buildup in his lungs.
Craig is determined to maintain the dietary changes and he will continue to pump iron to keep his heart pumping strong.
Researchers say there are about half a million congestive heart failure cases each year. Half of those patients are hospitalized again within 6 months.