Heart failure is not a disease

By June Shannon Heart News   |   17th Apr 2018

Heart failure is not a disease but rather a syndrome with a number of symptoms caused by many diseases

Tuesday, 17th April 2018

By June Shannon

Heart failure is not a disease but rather a syndrome with a number of symptoms caused by many diseases, patients attending the Irish Heart Foundation’s public heart failure information evening last week were told.

Addressing the patient information evening which was run in conjunction with the Mater Hospital in Dublin, Professor Niall Mahon, Consultant Cardiologist at the hospital said that each heart failure patient was an individual with their own unique and different heart failure journey.

For example, he said a person may have heart failure secondary to coronary artery disease, high blood pressure or myopathy. Therefore, Prof Mahon explained that the medications that may work for one person with heart failure may not be indicated or work well for somebody else with the condition.

He also explained that some people with heart failure had a weakened heart muscle and this was known as heart failure with “reduced ejection fraction,” while others will not have a weakened heart muscle, and this was known as “preserved ejection fraction.”

These are important distinctions that are used when treating heart failure, he added.

It is very important that we can raise awareness of what heart failure is, what are the signs and symptoms of heart failure

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director Irish Heart Foundation

Prof Mahon likened heart failure with reduced ejection fraction to a teenage boy with raging hormones. These hormones he explained are the body’s response to heart failure with reduced ejection fraction where certain hormones are over produced which over time are not good for the heart.

Therefore, he explained that the treatment of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction revolved around medications to correct these hormones. A concept which he said, had “dramatically improved the long-term survival of heart failure patients.”

Opening the well-attended meeting which was addressed by a number of heart failure experts and patients, Dr Angie Brown Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation said that heart failure was a lot more common than we think with approximately 90,000 people in Ireland suffering from the condition.

She also said that that number was set to “increase significantly” over the next 10 to 20 years due to the ageing population and improved treatments

“So it is very important that we can raise awareness of what heart failure is, what are the signs and symptoms of heart failure, we would like to try to prevent it by getting better treatment of high blood pressure and heart disease but also get it recognised earlier treat it earlier people can live very well with heart failure,” Dr Brown stated.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s free public information evening on heart failure took place on Thursday 12th of April and was supported by Novartis.

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