Heart failure is a serious chronic condition, but it doesn’t have to stop you from living. You see, Heart Failure doesn’t mean your heart is about to stop. It just means your heart muscle isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. It is estimated that 60 million people worldwide are living with heart failure today, and with the right medication and lifestyle, it can be controlled.
If you are living with heart failure, there are lots of things that you can do to help manage your condition, including medical treatments, adjusting your lifestyle and self-management. For example:
- Connect regularly with your heart failure nurse or doctor (see our virtual patient guide for online calls)
- Track your symptoms and seek help if you develop new or worsening symptoms (see our heart failure symptom tracker)
- Take your medications as prescribed
- Eat a healthy diet, with limited salt intake
- Get regular physical activity
- Join a support group for people living with heart failure
About Heart Failure:
- Heart failure is a serious chronic condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood to support the needs of other organs in the body.
- The most common causes of heart failure include coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction (heart attack), congenital heart defects, or damaged heart valves. Symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue and swollen limbs. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people are at risk of heart failure and it is the most frequent cause of hospitalisation in people over the age of 65.
Why creating awareness about Heart Failure is so important
The Heart Failure Patient Council is united in the view that heart failure is poorly recognised and not well understood by both the general public and healthcare professionals. There is global consensus that:
- The early signs and symptoms of heart failure are often dismissed as normal signs of ageing and thus overlooked as early presentation of the disease.
- There are significant gaps in access to diagnostics in primary care, which result in inequities and delays in diagnosis. Heart failure diagnoses are frequently made late and often the patient has developed acute disease.
- There is considerable variation and inequity of access to international best practice and specialist care, including access to heart failure nurse specialists (both in hospital and in the community).
- Failure and delays in recognising and treating heart failure appropriately is contributing to high hospital admission and re-admission rates, with consequential economic burden on healthcare systems and huge impact on patients and carers.
Know The Symptoms of Heart Failure
Heart failure can affect different people in different ways. Symptoms can come on suddenly and be initially severe (acute heart failure) or they can appear over time and gradually get worse (chronic heart failure). If you have heart failure, you may have one, or a combination, of these symptoms. The more common symptoms of heart disease are:
- Extreme tiredness or no energy
- Loss of appetite
- More frequent urination, especially at night
- Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Shortness of breath, even when lying down
- Swelling in the ankles/feet/stomach
- Weight gain over a short period of time (>2kg over 2 days)
By themselves, any one sign of heart failure may not be cause for alarm. But if you have one or more of these symptoms, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with any heart problems, you should visit your GP and ask the question “Could I have heart failure?”.
Heart Support Australia Peer Support Groups
If you or someone you know has experienced a heart event or received a cardiac-related diagnosis and would like to join one of our peer support groups, either in person or via Zoom for support, information and encouragement, please feel welcome to contact us via the details below:
P: 02 6253 0097
Click here to read more about our peer support groups.