Heart Failure

Heart Failure is a serious chronic condition which for most affected people requires long-term management and care. According to the British Heart Foundation (2012), it is estimated to affect 700,000 people in the UK with 63,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The number of people diagnosed with heart failure is expected to rise in future due to improved survival from Heart attacks and Ischemic heart disease and also due to the increasing age of the population.

Heart failure results from an impaired ability of the heart to pump leading to a failure to fully meet the demands placed on it by the body.

Heart Failure is Diagnosed from:

• Symptoms

The most common symptoms are breathlessness on exertion or at rest; fatigue, tiredness; lack of energy. These may be accompanied by loss of appetite and nausea.

• Signs of heart failure

Water retention: Unexplained weight gain; Swelling from ankles, lower legs which may progress to thighs and abdomen; Signs of fluid in the lungs; Increased volume in neck veins; Fast pulse; Increased breathing rate peripheral oedema; liver enlargement.

Tests which provide objective evidence of a decreased ability of the heart to pump effectively.
These usually include:

• Physical Examination

• Echocardiogram (Cardiac Ultrasound scan)

• Chest X-ray

• Blood tests

Heart Failure is a progressive condition and is linked to a lower life expectancy and can reduce quality of life. Many people who have heart failure may experience repeated admissions to hospital. There has been a lot of progress over the last 10 years in improving care and specialist services for people with Heart Failure. Evidence-based therapies, promoting healthier lifestyles and ongoing follow-up by a Specialist Heart Failure Team, have been shown to improve quality of life and long-term outcomes. Evidence-based therapies include medicines, devices (such as pacemakers) and regular activity/exercise.

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