Living with heart failure may sound like a contradiction in terms, but, contrary to popular myth, the heart does not fail, or stop, but labours on under increasing disadvantages. An estimated 900,000 people are currently living with heart failure in the UK, a figure which is set to increase as the population ages. Heart failure also affects an estimated 14 million Europeans and nearly five million Americans. Heart failure is a disorder in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the body, and there are different types depending on which side of the heart is affected. It may be caused by several different conditions and may be chronic, or acute. Once established, it tends to persist, but with lifestyle management and drugs, it is possible to delay its progress and to achieve better quality of life and health.
Many of those with heart failure will also have or have had some other heart problem such as heart attack, angina, or valve disease. Heart failure needs urgent addressing: some 40 per cent of heart failure patients die within a year of their first admission to hospital, yet modern drugs such as ACE inhibitors and beta blockers can be very effective. Public awareness about heart failure is limited, and education much-needed.
This book looks at a variety of issues including: