Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Heart failure affects one in five but public awareness is low

May 11, 2015 - news

One person in five is expected to develop heart failure in developed countries, a disease with no cure but that is largely preventable.
On Heart Failure Awareness Day, the Heart Failure Association (HFA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) called for greater public awareness of heart failure symptoms, with events in countries across Europe on 8, 9 and 10 May.

Heart failure is a life threatening disease that affects 26 million people worldwide and has a striking impact on quality of life. Patients are often scared, anxious and depressed. Those with breathlessness and extreme fatigue find work, travel and socialising difficult. Up to 45% of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure die within 1 year of admission and the majority die within 5 years.

Most types of heart failure are preventable and risk diminishes with a healthy lifestyle. After the disease has developed, premature deaths could be prevented if people were taught to recognise the symptoms and seek immediate medical attention. The Heart Failure Matters website provides practical information for patients, families, and caregivers in 8 languages.
Public awareness of heart failure symptoms is dangerously low. The risk of death increases when hospital treatment is delayed by just 4 to 6 hours after symptoms occur, but many patients do not contact a doctor for hours or even days despite obvious warning signs. Patients say they did not seek treatment immediately because they “did not think symptoms were heart related” or the symptoms were “not that severe at first”. Most patients wrongly think heart failure is not serious or is a normal part of ageing.
A healthy lifestyle decreases the risk of heart failure. Being physically active, eating a healthy diet and not smoking all have positive effects and lower the likelihood of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, which are also risk factors for heart failure.

Heart Failure Awareness Day is celebrating its 5th anniversary in more than 25 ESC member countries, who each add their individual flavour to the campaign. The British Society for Heart Failure (BSH) has used Heart Failure Awareness Day to raise awareness amongst politicians, policy makers, patients and healthcare professionals of the impact of heart failure and the need for equal access to specialist services. Professor Clark, chair of the BSH, said: “Most patients don't get to see a heart failure specialist. This needs to change because when patients are diagnosed quickly and given the best treatment, their chances of survival and a good quality of life dramatically improve.”


Source:

Press release ESC 8 mei 2015