At least 15 million people currently live with heart failure in Europe.
The Heart Failure Policy Network, of which the Irish Heart Foundation is a member, has launched a new handbook aimed at raising the awareness of the burden of heart failure in Europe and the need for improved care.
According to the Network, the new ‘Handbook of multidisciplinary and integrated heart failure care,’ aims to “help patient advocates and healthcare professionals communicate a shared, compelling and evidence-based policy case for change, win the support of key decision makers to challenge the status quo and encourage, facilitate, measure and, ideally, resource more consistent implementation of best practice.”
Heart failure is the number one cause of unplanned hospital admissions and the number of hospital admissions for the condition is expected to increase by 50 per cent in the next 25 years.
Patient quality of life and survival rates for heart failure also remain poor and are worse than for many types of cancer,
An estimated one in five people are expected to develop heart failure at some point in their lives and at least 15 million people currently live with heart failure in Europe.
The handbook noted that although the prognosis for heart failure was poor, the right care and support could allow people living with heart failure to recover many years of life and quality of life. The right package of care for patients with heart failure has also shown to reduce hospitalisation by up to 30 per cent, it added.
The new publication also outlined that heart failure “imposes a heavy physical and psychological burden on people living with the condition and their carers and families which was “comparable to many other major chronic diseases.”
Patient quality of life and survival rates for heart failure also remain poor and are worse than for many types of cancer, it added.
For example, a national registry in Sweden has reported that every year around 126,000 premature life-years are lost due to heart failure, compared with close to 120,000 due to cancer.
"A growing body of data, from national and international sources, shows that multidisciplinary care for heart failure, can produce significant reductions in the need for hospitalisation,"
Helena O' Donnell, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer, Irish Heart Foundation
Welcoming the new publication, Helena O Donnell, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation said, with one in five people expected to develop heart failure at some point, it was vital to improve the care that patients received.
According to Ms O Donnell, “An estimated 90,000 people in Ireland have heart failure, with some 10,000 new cases each year, making it more common than most forms of cancer. Heart failure is a very manageable condition if caught and treated early. The Irish Heart Foundation would encourage Government to review the recommendations in this handbook as it emphasises an integrated community-based approach to care, with a focus on keeping affected people out of the hospital setting. It also recommends the restructuring of in-hospital and out-patient care to allow for patients to be managed by specialist heart failure services. A growing body of data, from national and international sources, shows that multidisciplinary care for heart failure, encompassing primary care and hospital services, can produce significant reductions in the need for hospitalisation and achieve better quality of life and outcomes for patients.”
“At the Irish Heart Foundation we try to increase awareness of the symptoms of heart failure – fatigue, breathlessness and swollen ankles – to ensure patients are empowered to seek the help they need,” she added.
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