Heart failure trends a cause for concern

In the lead-up to Heart Failure Awareness Week (27 June – 3 July) health experts are calling on Australians to be smart about their hearts.

Heart failure is said to affect one in 50 Australians, and is becoming increasingly common. 

The condition is said to claim the lives of 61,000 lives annually, and it’s the number one cause of hospitalisation in people over age 65.

“Unfortunately, dangerously low levels of awareness about heart failure are leaving Australians vulnerable,” said hearts4heart CEO Tanya Hall, who lost her father to heart failure when he was just 59.

“To help patients affected by heart failure to feel better and live longer healthier lives, GPs need to recognise heart failure symptoms and know the appropriate clinical pathway for diagnosis,” Ms Hall said.

Cardiologist A/Prof John Amerena said: “Delayed diagnosis and upward trends in Australian heart failure admissions are reasons for concern.

“When left untreated, heart failure progressively worsens, but with early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes, a person with heart failure can reduce their risk of hospitalisation and improve their quality of life.”

To assist with the early identification of heart failure symptoms and provide guidance on the appropriate clinical pathway for diagnosis, hearts4heart’s Medical Advisory Committee has developed a new tool based on the Australian consensus of the recent European Society of Cardiologists (ESC) heart failure guidelines.

Recognising Heart Failure can be used to guide health professionals in their response to patients presenting with heart failure symptoms.

“As healthcare providers, we play a critical role in encouraging people aged 65 and older to be aware of symptoms and get their hearts checked regularly.

“Be heart smart. Have regular conversations about heart health with your patients, talk about possible symptoms, and be sure you understand the appropriate diagnostic pathway,” A/Prof Amarena said.

Heart failure symptoms

  • Shortness of breath during minimal exercise or exertion.
  • Need to use extra pillows when lying down to breathe easier.
  • Irregular heartbeat or palpitations.
  • Swelling of legs, feet, or stomach.
  • Coughing/wheezing.
  • Weight gain over a short period of time (e.g., >2kg over 2 days).
  • Extreme tiredness, low energy, or no energy.
  • Loss of appetite.

For more information, visit: hearts4heart.org.au/event/heart-failure-awareness-week/

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