The estimated 1,800 people living with heart failure in Westmeath are being urged to embrace a wide range of supports to help them manage the chronic condition.
The Irish Heart Foundation is at the centre of a national drive to provide vital back-up to patients who need help coping with the illness.
“People often feel shock, trauma and isolation after a diagnosis of heart failure, but with the right supports, it is manageable.
“We want to let these patients in Westmeath know that we are with them on that journey, in terms of counselling, online meetings, a Nurse Support Line, exercise classes, newsletters, a podcast series and peer-to-peer support to help them to keep well, both physically and mentally.
“We have patients in our network aged 30 and above, whose daily lives have changed – their work status, having to take medication, dealing with lower energy. All this can be helped with access to information and support, both from our healthcare professionals and talking to people on a similar path,” Lucinda McNerney, the Irish Heart Foundation’s Heart Failure Programme Manager, said.
The plea for patients to reach out coincides with Heart Failure Awareness Week, which runs until this Sunday (May16 ), but supports are available year round.
Heart failure occurs when the organ stops working as well as it should and finds it more difficult to pump blood around the body efficiently.
Consultant Cardiologist at the Mater Hospital and Chair of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Heart Failure Council, Dr Emer Joyce, says it can arise independent of age - with lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, excess alcohol consumption and lack of exercise fuelling increased prevalence of cases among younger people.
“You can live with heart failure and people can actually get it into remission.
“People who are most likely to achieve that are those who not only follow the medications, but follow all the lifestyle factors such as being physically active, keeping a healthy BMI and minimising any potential cardiotoxins,” Dr Joyce stated.
*If you are a heart failure patient and would like to join the Irish Heart Foundation’s Network and access support, sign up at irishheart.ie or contact Lucinda McNerney on 01-668 5001/[email protected]