Heart Failure Awareness Day, an initiative of the European Society of Cardiology is designed to raise awareness about the importance of recognising Heart Failure, getting an accurate diagnosis and receiving optimal treatment
Heart failure is a serious condition affecting 90,000 people in Ireland. There are another 160,000 people living with impending heart failure. Heart failure causes up to three times as many deaths as advanced cancers like bowel and breast cancer and is the number one reason for hospitalisation in the over 65s. Despite all of this heart failure awareness is worryingly low. One in three Irish people mistake heart failure symptoms with the normal signs of aging. One in four Irish people wait a week or more to seek medical advice when experiencing symptoms of heart failure1. Fewer than one in 10 people can identify three common symptoms of heart failure and these Irish figures emphasise how important it is for the public to learn more about the condition.
Heart failure prevalence is increasing, affecting 2% of the population on the island of Ireland, with numbers set to grow as the population ages and associated conditions, in particular diabetes, become more prevalent. The cost of heart failure approximates one billion euro across the island, driven primarily by hospital bed days numbering in excess of 230,000 bed days from emergency hospitalisation in the Republic of Ireland in 2012 alone.
Professor Ken McDonald, President of the Irish Cardiac Society, has called for rapid Community Heart Failure Diagnosis to mark European Heart Failure Awareness Day, May 6th 2016.
“Although traditionally regarded as having a poor prognosis with little therapies to improve outlook, recent advances in heart failure therapies have dramatically changed this and led to much better quality of life and longer lives for people with heart failure” said Prof McDonald, a consultant cardiologist specialising in heart failure . “However, the critical first step for many of our patients in the community is rapid access to an accurate diagnosis and the definition of a care strategy following consultation between the general practitioner and the cardiologist”.
“At present this is compromised by difficulties experienced by our General Practitioners in getting access to important diagnostic tests and specialist opinion, leading to people with heart failure not receiving access to these life-changing therapies. A 6 month delay in diagnosis is estimated to lead to a 23% increase in emergency hospitalisation for people with suspected heart failure”.
To highlight this issue the Irish Cardiac Society established a North South GP / Specialist Working group who have agreed an approach to community diagnosis of this condition, which they feel should be universally available on the island of Ireland and which emphasies the importance of access to diagnostic tests for heart failure. The Irish Cardiac Society encourages all involved in providing resources in health care on the island to work towards achieving specific goals over the next 12-24 months.
The society believes that ensuring rapid access to relevant diagnostics within a 2-6 week period, dependent on the severity of presentation, and subsequent specialist opinion within a further 4 weeks, will be a marked improvement on current delays which today can be in excess of 1 year. This would result in speedy accurate diagnosis, careful planning of a treatment plan and significant reduction in subsequent Emergency Department attendance and emergency hospitalisation.
About Diagnostic Tests for Heart Failure
The main diagnostic tests required for this pathway are natriuretic peptides (a blood test) and echocardiography (an ultrasound scan of the heart). Natriuretic peptides are proteins produced when the heart is under stress or strain. A normal natriuretic peptide means that the GP need not send the patient for echocardiography and reduces demand on this service by 30%. Echocardiography is an ultrasound of the heart which allows the doctor to see if there are abnormalities of structure or function of the heart consistent with heart failure and is essential to confirm the diagnosis and guide treatment. Lack of access or delays in accessing these tests from the community leads to delays in diagnosis and emergency hospitalisations for this condition.
About the Irish Cardiac Society
The Irish Cardiac Society is the professional society in Ireland for those whose primary interest is in the practice of Cardiology, Cardiovascular Surgery and Cardiovascular Research. www.irishcardiacsociety.com
About the North South GP / Specialist Care Initiative
The North South GP/Specialist Care Initiative is a working group of the Irish Cardiac Society involving general practitioners and cardiologists from both from the Republic and Northern Ireland and cardiologists from both regions as well. The purpose of this group is to advise and discuss matters of mutual importance relating to Cardiovascular Disease, striving to improve the links between primary and secondary care.
The “Keep It Pumping” campaign was officially launched today, European Heart Failure Awareness Day, to raise awareness of heart failure and the importance of recognising heart failure symptoms. The event which is being held in Dundrum Town Centre from the 6th – 8th May, is supported by The Heartbeat Trust and Croí and sponsored by Novartis.
The “Keep It Pumping” campaign aims to raise awareness of heart failure and its symptoms. We are encouraging people to donate their heartbeats in support of heart failure awareness. The “Keep It Pumping” app is available to download for free and lets you record and save your “heartbeat”. It also aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of heart failure and encourages people to seek medical advice if they or a family member are experiencing these symptoms. Common symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, low energy, swelling of the feet and ankles and coughing/wheezing.
In addition the Heart Failure Patient Alliance, founded by the Heartbeat Trust and Croí, is launching comprehensive heart failure education materials to support people who are living with heart failure and their carers, with the support of Novartis. This includes; practical advice on living with heart failure, helpful tips and advice from Irish people living with heart failure, their families, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and dieticians.
Professor Ken McDonald, Consultant Cardiologist, Medical director of The Heartbeat Trust and National Clinical Lead for Heart Failure, said; “Education plays a huge role in disease prevention and management. The burden of heart failure is enormous from both societal and economic perspectives. Everyone needs to be better informed about heart failure: from symptoms and prevalence, to consequences and what can be done about it. Our aim is to help to reduce the burden of heart failure through the provision of educational material. To access this material visitwww.heartbeat-trust.ie or www.croi.ie/heart-failure-resources.”
Neil Johnson, CEO, Croí said; “It is important that people can recognise heart failure symptoms and if suffering from them speak to their GP at their next appointment. The most common symptoms of heart failure are; shortness of breath or trouble breathing, fatigue, swollen feet or ankles.”
Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director, Novartis Ireland said, “Research conducted by Novartis in Ireland clearly shows that the awareness of health failure symptoms, is worryingly low, with most people mistaking the symptoms to be signs of aging. The only way we can start to tackle and manage the condition, is by raising awareness and uniting to improve the lives of those living with it.”
“Novartis is proud to support the Keep It Pumping campaign to help people identify symptoms of heart failure early, so they can act immediately to ensure that they will have an earlier diagnosis leading to better outcomes. For people already diagnosed with heart failure we are delighted to support the Heart Failure Patient Alliance to bring education and support to patients and their carers ensuring they are empowered and informed enough to manage their condition effectively.”
The Heartbeat Trust would like to thank all of its supporters throughout 2015.
It has been a very exciting year for the Trust, we introduced our virtual consultation service and launched our Innovation Centre for Personalised Care with Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar. We saw the expansion of our landmark STOP-HF (Screening TO Prevent Heart Failure) Programme into the Midlands region in addition to starting new studies into the prevention and treatment of Heart Failure. Our inaugural Golf Classic (sponsored by Arthur Cox) in Powerscourt was a huge success. This was also the first year team Heartbeat entered the VHI Womens Mini Marathon and the DLR Bay10k.
We were all deeply saddened by the passing of Krish Naidoo a long serving board and cofounder of the Trust. We are most grateful to him, his wife and family for their work and support. May he rest in peace and our sympathies to his wife and family.
There are about 90,000 people living with heart failure in Ireland today. It is one of the most common causes of hospitalisation in patients over 65 years of age. There are more than 20,000 patients admitted to hospital with heart failure in Ireland anually, 90% of which were emergency admissions.
The burden of heart failure on individuals, their families and the health service is increasing due to our ageing population, better survival after heart attacks, and poorly controlled risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking.
These numbers can be reduced by highlighting the risk factors of Heart Failure and becoming more aware of the signs. Prevention strategies such as our STOP-HF programme will reduce the numbers affected by Heart Failure.
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The Heartbeat Trust wishes all its friends and supporters a Happy Christmas and all the very best in 2016. We look forward to further progress in 2016. Do keep in touch. Your help and support is highly valued and much appreciated.
A special word to the patients and their families: We are privileged to serve you and we wish each and everyone the peace and happiness this Christmas and throughout 2016.
Le gach Dea ghui i gcomhar Nollaig agus na hAithbhliana go gath einne.
Ambrose McLoughlin, Chairperson, The Heartbeat Trust.
Dublin, Monday, October 19, 2015: Some of the leading forces in healthcare, including senior officials of the Department of Health and HSE, will meet tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss how the health service could be re-designed to make wider use of technologies in the treatment of chronic diseases.
The meeting is being convened by the Heartbeat Trust which uses technology to manage heart failure patients. Chaired by Dr Ambrose McLoughlin, former Secretary General of the Department of Health, the Trust is bringing together the top 25 in healthcare in Ireland involving Government, medics, HSE, CEOs of pharma, insurance, medical devices, tech companies about redesigning the health service.
The Trust lead by a consultant cardiologist in St Vincent’s, Professor Ken McDonald could be a model for tackling chronic diseases which eat up a lot of the health service’s resources. Using technology the Trust keeps people prone to heart failure out of hospital as much as possible. “If the health system went for a system of connected care on chronic diseases involving service providers, funders, GPs, e-health, pharma and med tech, then it would take pressures out of the system and make better use of resources,” according to Dr McLoughlin, Chairman of the Heartbeat Trust.
The Trust initiative is based on deploying smart community-based diagnostics to broaden the range of people who can benefit from landmark Screening to Prevent Heart Failure (STOP-HF) programme. It also brings the next generation of novel, specific and personalised therapies to the STOP-HF population, as well as delivering care in the community using eHealth initiatives such as telemonitoring and Virtual Consultations between primary and secondary care physicians. This reduces waiting lists and bring care closer to the patient by empowering primary care.
The pioneering work has shown a 40% reduction in heart-related Emergency Department admissions for the patients involved to date. More than one million people in Ireland fit the STOP-HF criteria and amongst those, the model could save more than 17,000 emergency department admissions annually, equivalent to creating a brand new 380-bed hospital, if the model were rolled out nationally. “People are now looking to our group internationally to understand how to roll the model out. For example groups in Germany and Austria are working on the STOP-HF model and the Mayo Clinic in the United States is continuing discussions on how to adapt the STOP-HF model to the US healthcare system,” Professor McDonald said.