Craig Young learned four years ago that his heart wasn't pumping right. When doctors told the 59-year-old 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," Young said.
Doctors said 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 Dr. David Rawitscher, medical director, the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic at the Heart Hospital Baylor in Plano, Texas.
But not always, because congestive heart failure is present in two percent of all Americans ages 40 to 59. Experts said those numbers have been steadily on the rise.
That's why doctors say everyone should know the symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty exercising and difficulty sleeping.
Young also made dietary changes by reducing his salt intake to stop fluid buildup in his lungs.
"This is one teaspoon of salt. This is the maximum recommended for healthy people," said Emily Hein, a registered dietician for the Advanced Cardiovascular Care at the Heart Hospital Baylor.
Young is determined to maintain the dietary changes, and he will continue to pump iron to keep his heart pumping strong.
Researchers said there are about a half-million congestive heart failure cases each year. Half of those patients are hospitalized again within six months.