Heart Failure Awareness Week 9-15 May, 2022

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:

  • Coughing/wheezing
  • 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:

E: office@heartnet.org.au

P: 02 6253 0097

Click here to read more about our peer support groups.

6 tips to reduce your risk of a secondary heart event this Heart Week, 2 – 8 May 2022

Take your medications as prescribed, even when you feel really well.

If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or you have experienced a heart event, you will also be prescribed with medications to help manage your heart health. Common heart medication includes those that manage your blood pressure and cholesterol, help prevent blood clots from developing, and prevent and/or manage angina.

It is important to understand and manage your medications. Your GP or pharmacist can assist with questions or concerns that you may have about the medications you are taking, including any side effects.

It is equally important to continue taking your medications as prescribed by your GP or cardiologist, even when you feel really well, as this means the medication is managing your heart health and helping to reduce or prevent your risks of a secondary heart event.

Don’t put off your check-up.

Throughout the stages of the pandemic, medical records have shown that many people have delayed or avoided seeing their GP or even missed tests or check-ups with their specialists. We encourage you to not put off or avoid your regular appointments or specialist follow-ups as this can be detrimental to your heart health.

Your health practitioners will be able to advise you on what measures they have put in place for keeping safe when physically visiting their offices. There are other options available such as telehealth or video calls for health concerns that don’t require an in-person consult.

Join a Heart Support Australia (HSA) Peer Support Group.

If you have experienced a heart event, joining a HSA Peer Support Group and talking with people who have been through the same or similar experiences can make it easier to feel connected with others, less isolated and more able to express your feelings and concerns.

Heart Support Australia currently facilitates nine peer support groups around Australia, each led by a volunteer who has experienced a heart event themselves and one virtual peer support group held online via Zoom.

Membership is free so join us today to receive support, information and encouragement for as long as is needed.

Refer a friend to Heart Support Australia

Sadly, statistics still show heart disease to be Australia’s biggest killer and those who have experienced a heart event such as heart attack are twice as likely to die prematurely than the general population, making secondary heart disease prevention essential in our community.

If you know of someone who has experienced a heart event, refer them to Heart Support Australia for support, information and encouragement whilst they navigate their diagnosis, heart health and getting back on track. One way to let them know about us is to give them the website address for more information.

Visit www.heartsupport.org.au for more information.

The Heart Support Australia website provides information about the organisation, available peer support groups, resources for patients and carers, heart support tips and newsletters. If you can’t find what you are looking for, please feel welcome to contact the team by emailing office@heartsupport.org.au or phoning (02) 6253 0097.

Register for the Healthy Heart Challenge®

Renowned Australian cardiologist, Dr Ross Walker has narrowed a healthy heart down to five key principles; quit unhealthy vices or addictions, sleep for seven to eight hours at night, enjoy healthy eating, aim for eight-thousand steps per day and stress less, smile more!

These five key principles form the Healthy Heart Challenge® – click here for more information and to register today.