New data shows 87% of patients don’t know the symptoms of heart failure before they are diagnosed and only 53% had even heard of the condition before they were told they had it.
The research from heart failure charity, Pumping Marvellous found ignorance of symptoms and poor diagnosis rates have led to a critical national crisis - causing unnecessary suffering for patients and additional strain on the NHS.
Pumping Marvellous Foundation (PMF) is the UK’s patient led Heart Failure charity. It was founded by a heart failure patient whose experiences whilst rehabilitating has shaped the Foundation’s goals and principles of a patient-centric charity focused on improved patient outcomes.
In the the UK, there are 200,000 new cases of heart failure diagnosed every year and there are one million people living with heart failure.
Heart failure is basically being ignored
Charity founder and chief executive Nick Hartshorne-Evans said: “We have always felt heart failure doesn’t have the level of awareness it should have, and the findings from this report confirm that. It is a national disgrace that we can have a condition affecting one million people and rising by 200,000 every year, that is basically being ignored.
"Not by the brilliant heart failure teams who are saving lives every day, but by a health system that has not paid nearly enough attention to raising awareness of this condition.”
The report, which surveyed more than 500 people affected by heart failure, also shows how this poorly understood condition has a negative perception in society, with many associating it with dying and death. In actual fact, if diagnosed and properly supported people can live with the condition long-term.
Professor Martin Cowie, cardiologist from Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “We have long been concerned about the low profile of heart failure, because the lack of awareness translates into lack of recognition of symptoms, making diagnosis slower and more difficult.
"Early diagnosis really matters. As a cardiologist I want to see a heart failure patient as quickly as possible, so that I can work with them to give them the tools to best manage their condition. There is so much we can do for people with heart failure, and a diagnosis does not mean it is the end of your life. This report highlights examples of people who have learned to manage their condition, and are living well in spite of it.”