Heart failure patients join Irish Heart Foundation to make an impact in the Dáil

By Pauline O'Shea Heart News   |   30th Jun 2023

It’s been a week of heavy campaigning by the Irish Heart Foundation and their heart failure patient advocates, who made their way to the Dáil on June 27th to meet with TDs and Senators to tell them what the real challenges were like once diagnosed with heart failure in Ireland.

Patients from Cavan, Cork, Clare, Meath, Kerry, Kildare and Dublin, accompanied the Irish Heart Foundation on the day, to help launch ‘The Needs of Heart Failure Patients in Ireland’ survey, a survey that looked at a range of unmet, or poorly met needs of heart failure patients post-diagnosis in their communities.

Lack of psychological, economic, and social supports were key areas discussed on the day and how poor provision of these at community level, not only impacted the patients’ ability to recover, but acted as a challenge to remaining well with their diagnosis in the community. The lack of cardiac rehab services for many patients and the lack of a national heart failure registry in Ireland were also highlighted on the day as being problematic when it came to heart failure patient wellness in the community.

Over 30 politicians attended on the event and expressed shock and alarm at both the estimated scale of heart failure in Ireland, especially amongst working age patients, which according to HSE estimates for heart failure represents 1% of the adult population 65 years and under in Ireland (est.32,000 patients), with the remaining 60,000+ patients aged 65+

Hosted by John Lahart TD, the hour-long gathering allowed for presentations from Prof. Emer Joyce (Mater Hospital) on the burden of heart failure in Ireland, Pauline O’Shea (Heart failure patient and Advocacy Campaign Manager with Irish Heart Foundation), on the survey results and the real-life experience of being a patient of heart failure in the community, and Dr. Angie Brown (Consultant Cardiologist and Medical Director with the Irish Heart Foundation), who explained how the Heart Connect Service, offered by the Irish Heart Foundation is offering heart failure patients six free counselling sessions, peer support and online meetings, to try and support heart failure patients in the community who currently have very little or no supports in these areas.

Heart failure patients then relayed their experiences of the lack of community services in many different parts of Ireland and the economic struggles if diagnosed with heart failure while of working age, and called on the TDs directly to help provide some economic reliefs to working-age heart failure patients, especially in the form of medical cards, for what is a life-long condition, requiring life-long medication and medical care.

Media interest in the survey and topics covered has been high, and extended to coverage on RTE News at One, Morning Ireland, Newstalk and a selection of national and regional press pieces. In the aftermath of the event, much air time has been given to the issue on local, and regional radio shows around Ireland.

“This is just the beginning. For too long heart failure patients in Ireland have been invisible and suffering in silence trying to live with their diagnosis."

Pauline O'Shea, Advocacy Campaign Manager, Irish Heart Foundation

“The Irish Heart Foundation will continue to work with heart failure patients and politicians to achieve some of the key requirements needed to support heart failure patients to live well in their communities. We are more determined than ever now, knowing that medical professionals, the public, and many politicians are behind us.” said Pauline.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s The Needs of Heart Failure Patients in Ireland survey can be downloaded here.

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