The British Society for Heart Failure (BSH) are about to embark on an awareness programme for at least the next five years and we would like to ask you to support our Campaign and join us as a partner organisation.
The programme is called ‘Freedom from Failure – The F Word’ and is intended to:
Freedom from Fighting for breath, Fatigue and Fluid build up
- Raise public, professional and policy-maker awareness of heart failure
- Increase early presentation in primary care by improving symptom recognition
- Support those with heart failure
- Support the ambitions for heart failure within National plans
- Aid the recovery of our health system as the COVID crisis abates
You can follow this on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin. BSH have asked partner organisations to support this campaign and BANCC will support and promote this campaign under the banner
Heart failure is an insidious condition characterised by symptoms including Fighting for breath, Fatigue and Fluid build-up, often noticeable in the ankles. There are approximately 1 million people with heart failure in the UK[i] and a further 200,000 people are newly diagnosed each year. For half of those with the condition, heart failure is terminal with death occurring within 2-5 years of diagnosis. For many there are delays in diagnosis which is taking over 12 months (a figure targeted by NHS England for reduction by half). And, for those who unwittingly drop heart failure into the bucket of ‘heart problems’ as a cause of death, it is the little-known true endpoint for almost all cardiovascular disease. The risk of death from heart failure is higher than for some of the most common cancers and should be treated with the same urgency. We have a real concern over the direct and indirect toll of the CoViD-19 pandemic with escalation of heart failure cases and those yet to be diagnosed over the coming months and years[ii].
However, whilst it remains a burdensome, debilitating condition for many and prognosis being poor without intervention, with appropriate management, it is possible for people to live well with heart failure. Outcomes can be dramatically improved through earlier diagnosis and treatment with guideline recommended therapies[iii]. This is an important aim of heart failure specialists and the British Society for Heart Failure.
Currently, 80% of heart failure is diagnosed in hospital despite 40% having symptoms that should have triggered an earlier assessment in primary care[iv]. This has to change. We all have to pull together. But how much do members of the public really know about the health of their heart? How much do they know about heart failure? After all, that unfortunate elderly neighbour with fluid filled ankles had ‘a heart condition’ or a ‘heart problem’ which is an inevitable consequence of ageing, right? But you know it was most likely heart failure. Self-recognition of symptoms and seeking medical advice early is crucial and should expedite earlier diagnosis and treatment and ultimately improve outcomes for those currently unaware they have heart failure. One of the keys to early detection is use of the blood test for NT-pro BNP in General Practice as results of the test can indicate if symptoms are likely to be due to heart failure (or not) and how urgently a patient may then need referral to a heart failure specialist.
[iv] https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/online-version/chapter-3-further-progress-on-care-quality-and-outcomes/better-care-for-major-health-conditions/cardiovascular-disease/ accessed 14Apr21
Heart failure does not discriminate for creed, ethnicity, economic status or geography and rarely exists in isolation. People with heart failure often have other problems such as diabetes and kidney disease and require an integrated approach to their care with robust care pathways to meet their needs from diagnosis through to end of life. Optimising the care of those with heart failure ultimately improves the co-morbidities. The development of new classes of medicines for the treatment of both heart failure and diabetes together with a plethora of established therapies and sophisticated devices offers an opportunity for a more holistic approach to treatment and improved life quality and quantity for those living with heart failure.
Heart failure, arguably, is the success story of modern day medicine with two decades of exponential growth in research and management that is now bearing fruit. And the trappings of this success should be available and more easily accessed by many, many more people with heart failure.
Launching the ‘Freedom from Failure – the F Word’ programme now (during Heart Failure Awareness Week 2021) will serve as a platform to showcase all the concomitant ongoing/ planned heart failure initiatives. It has been developed with the interests of all parties involved in heart failure care in mind. By consolidating our efforts, we can augment impact for those affected by heart failure now and in the future. We can make a massive difference by aligning and acting together. At this current time, the health service is not only facing a potential tsunami of heart failure cases in the wake of the pandemic, but with structural changes at a national level such as NHS England’s introduction of Integrated Care Systems and adjustments to health board in the devolved nations, there is significant opportunity to improve services and outcomes for those with heart failure. Starting with regulating the flow of heart failure cases into the system through self-recognition of symptoms and presenting to primary care rather than emergency admissions through secondary care will provide a vital breathing space for the system and allow us to synergise in building back better.
To learn more visit: www.BSH.org.uk/the-f-word