Heart Failure Awareness Month | May, 2024

Heart Failure Awareness Month May, 2024

HF Awareness Month May 2024

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Heart Failure and its Comorbidities (connected conditions)

If you’re living with heart failure, it’s important to regularly monitor your heart health. But for the best outcomes, it’s important to look beyond your heart.

Hearts are connected to every other part of our body. So heart failure often develops from, or leads to, other health conditions.

People with heart failure often have other conditions at the same time, such as kidney disease, type 2 Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, iron deficiency, or an irregular heart rate or rhythm. Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are also common.

These connected conditions are called comorbidities. They need to be treated too.

It’s important to identify and monitor any comorbidities you might have.
So, when you talk to your doctor about your Heart Failure, be sure to talk about everything else that’s connected, too.

Follow the campaign using #HeartFailureAwareness


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Heart failure patients often suffer from multiple comorbidities (cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular), such as an irregular heart rate or rhythm, high blood pressure, kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, iron deficiency, and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Major comorbidities include:

  • Coronary Artery Disease, Kidney Disease, Obesity
  • Arrhythmia, electrolyte imbalance, thyroid disorder, stroke
  • Frailty, Gout, Arthritis
  • Depression, Erectile dysfunction
  • Anemia, Iron Deficiency
  • Cancer, Cardiac Amyloidosis, Malnutrition
  • Infection, Lung disease, sleep disorder breathing
  • Hyperlipidemia, hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, Valvular Heart Disease

One out of eight people over the age of 75 suffers from moderate to severe heart valve disease, which involves damage to one or more of the heart’s valves. It is estimated that the number of people living with heart valve disease will double by 2040 and triple by 2060.

Heart Valve Disease prevalence is rising rapidly due to the ageing of the population. People are living longer and older people are crucial contributors to society and the economy. Untreated valve disease is a barrier to active ageing but conversely, early detection and timely treatment will increase longevity and quality of life.

Often heart valve disease patients are diagnosed only when they see a healthcare professional for a regular check-up or for some other issue. The seriousness of heart valve disease, combined with the fact that the symptoms are often difficult to detect or dismissed as a normal part of ageing, can often result in troublesome or dangerous consequences.

Living with heart failure comorbidities can take a toll on your physical and mental health, but effective management is crucial for the best outcome and better quality of life.

Early, coordinated treatment is key, so discuss your comorbidities and risks with your healthcare professional.

Comorbidity treatment

Prompt recognition of connected conditions (comorbidities) is of great importance in managing your heart failure1. Heart Failure patients should consult with their doctor for signs of comorbidity development. Comorbidities can complicate the management of heart failure, and treatment for comorbidities in heart failure is still challenging. Advancements in technology can assist with comorbidity management, treating the patient as a whole.

Additional information

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a condition in which the kidneys progressively lose function and cannot adequately filter blood to balance the body’s fluids, salts and minerals. The kidneys support the overall health of many of our organ systems, and because of this interconnectivity, damage to the kidneys increases the risk of cardiovascular complications – including heart failure. At the most advanced and severe stages of disease, progressive damage and deterioration of the kidneys requires dialysis or kidney transplantation and can lead to death.

Learn more from the Global Patient Alliance for Kidney Health.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the pancreas can no longer make insulin, or the body cannot effectively use insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. The body breaks down all carbohydrate foods into glucose in the blood, and insulin helps glucose move into the cells. When the body cannot produce or use insulin effectively, this leads to high blood glucose levels, called hyperglycaemia. Over the long-term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.

There are 3 main types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1: Can develop at any age and requires insulin treatment for survival.
  2. Type 2: Accounts for around 90% of all diabetes and is more commonly diagnosed in adults.
  3. Gestational: Occurs with high blood glucose during pregnancy and can cause complications for both mother and child.

Learn more from the International Diabetes Federation.

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).

Obesity is a complex disease characterised by excessive adiposity that impairs health. Obesity may arise from different causes, including altered environments, personal situations and psycho-social factors, medications, diseases, trauma, iatrogenic procedures, and genetic variations.

Learn more from the European Association for the Study of Obesity.

Hypertension is a long-term condition where blood pressure is increased. It is the leading cause of death worldwide, affecting more than 1.4 billion people and accounting for more than 28,000 deaths each day. Initially, it does not cause any symptoms but if left untreated it can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, vision loss and dementia. Control of high blood pressure can help protect against these conditions and there are many steps that can be taken to help lower blood pressure.
Hypertension is a complex condition with many causes including lifestyle factors, such as physical inactivity, a salt-rich diet with high processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use.

Learn more from the International Society of Hypertension.

Iron is the critical nutrient that feeds your body and your brain. It helps your blood move the oxygen from lungs to your muscles, organs, and the rest of the body. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells. Though everyone is susceptible to developing iron deficiency or anemia at different times in their lives, particular groups of people are more at risk than others.

Learn more from the American Society of Hematology

An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. Your heart is controlled by a conduction system which sends out electrical impulses. This causes a heartbeat. Arrhythmias are caused by a problem in this conduction system, which can make your heart beat too slowly, too quickly, or in an irregular way.

Learn more from the British Heart Foundation.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term used to describe chronic lung diseases including emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. This disease is characterised by breathlessness. Some people with COPD also experience tiredness and chronic cough with or without mucus. COPD is (currently) an incurable disease, but with the right diagnosis and treatment, there are many things you can do to breathe better and enjoy life and live for many years.

Learn more from the COPD Foundation.

There are many kinds of liver diseases and conditions, the most common are hepatitis viruses, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), autoimmune diseases, genetic conditions, cancer, and others. Liver disease has many causes such as:

  • Infections: Viruses and parasites can infect the liver. The most common infections are hepatitis viruses. Liver-damaging viruses can be spread through contaminated food or water, unscreened blood transfusions, sexual contact, exposure to blood/body fluids, and other ways.
  • Immune system abnormalities: Your immune system protects your body from germs and toxins. But that system can attack certain parts of your body (autoimmune), including your liver. Examples of autoimmune liver diseases include: autoimmune hepatitis; primary biliary cholangitis; primary sclerosing cholangitis.
  • Genetics: An abnormal gene inherited from one or both of your parents can cause liver damage. Genetic liver diseases include: hemochromatosis; Wilson’s disease; alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
  • Cancer and other growths: Examples include: liver cancer; bile duct cancer; liver adenoma.
  • Other causes of liver disease: long-term alcohol use; fat accumulation in the liver (NAFLD; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease); obesity; some prescription or over-the-counter medications; some herbal compounds.

Learn more from the Liver Foundation.

Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions – just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States.

Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated or disinterested in life in general for more than two weeks and when the feelings interfere with daily activities.

Major depression is a treatable illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves and functions. At any point in time, 3 to 5 percent of people suffer from major depression; the lifetime risk is about 17 percent.

Learn more from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

About this campaign

Led by the Global Heart Hub’s Heart Failure Patient Council, the 2024 Heart Failure Awareness Campaign focuses on heart failure comorbidities and the importance of managing heart failure and connected conditions. The Heart Failure Patient Council is an alliance of patient organisations from across the globe, working with heart failure patients and their carers. A priority of the council is to raise awareness of heart failure, promote public and healthcare education and advocate for policy action in an insufficiently recognised and increasingly burdensome disease area.

To join the campaign or for more information, please email info@globalhearthub.org.

Get Involved

To join the campaign or for more information, please email info@globalhearthub.org.