Heart failure - be familiar with the warning signs

The Irish Heart Foundation recently launched a new campaign - 'Pay Attention to the Sign' - to raise awareness of heart failure symptoms.

The campaign, supported by Novartis, aims to encourage those aged 50 and older to be aware of the signs of heart failure, as early detection of the symptoms can significantly improve a patient’s prognosis. Swollen ankles, fatigue and shortness of breath are warning signs that should never be ignored.

Speaking about his own experience of living with heart failure, Sunday Game presenter Michael Lyster, who is fronting this campaign, said: “Looking back now, the warning signs of heart failure were clearly there, but I didn’t realise what was coming down the road. I was ignoring a lot of things that were happening to me, and that was a mistake. I was constantly tired, my ankles were swollen and I would wake up at night panting for breath. Eventually, it got to a stage where I couldn’t ignore it any longer.”

Heart failure is a life-threatening condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body, as the walls of the heart become too weak or too stiff to work properly. However, with access to timely diagnosis, appropriate medical management and follow-up services, a patient’s prognosis can be significantly improved. It is estimated that 90,000 people live with the condition in Ireland.

Dr Angie Brown, medical director, Irish Heart Foundation, said: "When we see warning signs on the road we pay attention. But, when it’s our own body, sometimes we can ignore the signs. Heart failure can often go unnoticed because its symptoms come on gradually. It’s easy to attribute tiredness to a busy lifestyle, and breathlessness to being out of shape. These are signs we need to watch out for."

If you are concerned about heart failure, please contact the Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse helpline on 1800 252550 or visit Knowyourheart.ie

For more information about the campaign visit www.knowyourheart.ie

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