Tool to assist in early diagnosis and management of heart failure
Now affecting 1 in 50 Australians, heart failure is becoming increasingly common and expected to rise, as more people survive heart attacks, live longer and experience heart issues that lead to this potentially debilitating and long-term condition, warns charity organisation hearts4heart.
Clinicians, patients, carers and politicians are joining the charity in urging Australians to be smart about their heart, as they kick off Australia’s inaugural Heart Failure Awareness Week (27 June–3 July).
“Unfortunately, dangerously low levels of awareness about heart failure are leaving Australians vulnerable,” said hearts4heart CEO Tanya Hall, who lost her father to heart failure when he was just 59.
“To help patients affected by heart failure to feel better and live longer, healthier lives, GPs need to recognise heart failure symptoms and know the appropriate clinical pathway for diagnosis,” Hall said.
Cardiologist A/Prof John Amerena said, “Delayed diagnosis and upward trends in Australian heart failure admissions are reasons for concern.
“When left untreated, heart failure progressively worsens, but with early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes, a person with heart failure can reduce their risk of hospitalisation and improve their quality of life,” Amerena said.
To assist with early identification of heart failure symptoms and provide guidance on the appropriate clinical pathway for diagnosis, hearts4heart’s Medical Advisory Committee has developed a new tool based on the Australian consensus of the recent European Society of Cardiologists (ESC) heart failure guidelines.
‘Recognising Heart Failure’ can be used to guide GPs in their response to patients presenting with heart failure symptoms and is available for download on the charity’s website at hearts4heart.org.au.
“As healthcare providers, we play a critical role in encouraging people aged 65 and older to be aware of symptoms and get their hearts checked regularly. Be heart smart. Have regular conversations about heart health with your patients, talk about possible symptoms and be sure you understand the appropriate diagnostic pathway,” Amerena said.
Accounting for $3.1 billion, heart failure is the number one cause of hospitalisation in people over the age of 65, with around 1.1 million days of hospital stay recorded each year, according to hearts4hearts.
Alarmingly, 30% of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure are readmitted within 60–90 days and around 1 in 3 of those admitted will die within one year of being diagnosed.
To reduce preventable hospitalisations, support shared decision-making between patients and clinicians, and improve the overall quality of life of heart failure patients and caregivers, hearts4heart is also launching Australia’s first Heart Failure Patient & Caregiver Charter with the support of Parliamentary Friends of Heart and Stroke, clinicians, patients and caregivers.
“Through improved education and shared decision-making between clinicians, patients and caregivers, we can disrupt the cycle resulting in thousands of hospitalisations each year, but it will require a commitment from all Australians,” Hall said.
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