The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

My health partner
Why get checked?

Living

with heart failure

Is heart failure a common disease?​

Heart failure is a real public health problem: it is important to be diagnosed by a doctor!​

64

MILLION

CASES OF HF IN THE WORLD, MORE THAN HALF OF WHICH WERE CLASSED AS SEVERE1

1IN5

ADULTS OVER 40 YEARS OF AGE WILL HAVE HF IN THEIR LIFETIME2

THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH HF IS INCREASING AND IS PROJECTED TO RISE BY

46%

BY 20303

Click here to see the full infographic

What do I need to pay attention to?​

Main risk factors are4,5:

High blood pressure​

Your heart works harder than it has to if your blood pressure is high, and it can damage your blood vessels.​

Diabetes​

Having diabetes means your blood sugar is high. High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels.

Obesity

People who are obese have a higher risk of developing heart failure since being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure.​

Coronary artery disease​

Narrowed arteries may limit your heart’s supply of oxygen-rich blood, resulting in weakened heart muscle.​

Certain​ medications​

Some medications may lead to heart failure or heart problems. Discuss with your doctor whether you need to make any changes in your medications.​

Alcohol​/Tobacco​

Drinking too much alcohol and using tobacco can weaken heart muscle and lead to heart failure.​

Irregular ​heartbeats​

These abnormal rhythms, especially if they are very frequent and fast, can weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure​.

Don’t forget to do your part!

There are several physiological criteria that you can monitor such as: ​

Weight

Blood pressure

Heart rate

Physical activity

Diet

How do I measure my heart rate at home?6

Most of the time, it is your doctor or another health care professional who will measure your heart rate, but you can also monitor your heart rate by yourself, by “taking your pulse” in your wrist or neck. ​

How do I measure my heart rate at home?​

  1. Rest at least 5 minutes​.

  2. If you want to find your pulse in your wrist, hold your left or right palm facing upwards and with the other hand, place your index and middle fingers (not the thumb) on the inside of your wrist, just below the base of your thumb.

    If you want to find your pulse in your neck, place your index and middle fingers (not the thumb) to the side of your neck, just below your jawbone and beside your windpipe.

  1. Press your fingers: you should feel a throbbing, this is your pulse. If you can’t find it, try moving your two fingers around a bit and pressing a little harder.​

  2. Using a clock, or counting in your head, count the number of beats for 30 seconds and multiply by two to get your heart rate.​

Don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about how to measure your heart rate, how often, and how to interpret your results.​

You can act on heart failure.
Download this leaflet to see what you can do.

Developed by the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology

Click here to download

How is heart failure diagnosed?

Identifying risk factors and comorbidities is also very important (see more details in What do I need to pay attention to?)​

There are a number of different tests to perform to confirm the diagnosis of heart failure, such as chest X-rays, ECG (electrocardiogram), and laboratory tests, such as brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels.9​

What should I do if I think my heart failure is getting
worse and I have increasing symptoms?

Please see the warning signs below.10 ​

If, for example, you feel that your breathing is getting gradually worse or you notice progressive weight gain, then you should contact your doctor or nurse and ask for an appointment as soon as possible.

Did you know?

CALL FOR IMMEDIATE HELP IF YOU EXPERIENCE

  • Persistent chest pain that is not relieved by nitroglycerin​
  • Severe and persistent shortness of breath​
  • Fainting​

INFORM YOUR DOCTOR OR NURSE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU EXPERIENCE​

  • Increasing shortness of breath and tolerating less and less activity​
  • Consistently awakening short of breath​
  • Needing more pillows to sleep comfortably​
  • Rapid heart rate or worsening palpitations​

DISCUSS WITH YOUR DOCTOR OR NURSE IF YOU EXPERIENCE​

  • Rapid weight gain of more than 2 kg (3 lbs) in 3 days​
  • Progressive swelling or pain in the abdomen​
  • Increasing swelling of the legs or ankles​
  • Worsening dizziness​
  • Loss of appetite/nausea​
  • Increasing fatigue​
  • Worsening cough

Prepare your appointment with your doctor and nurse. This brochure contains all the questions you need to ask.​

Developed by the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology​

Click here to download

References

  1. Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Collaborators. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet. 2015;386(9995):743-800.
  2. Lloyd-Jones DM, Larson MG, Leip EP, et al. Framingham Heart Study. Lifetime risk for developing congestive heart failure: the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation. 2002;106(24):3068-3072.
  3. Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, et al. American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics-2017 update: a report from the American Heart Association.
  4. NHS. Cardiovascular disease. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiovascular-disease/. Accessed March 30, 2021.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Heart failure – Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-failure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373142. Accessed April 1, 2021.
  6. NHS. How do I check my pulse? https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/accidents-first-aid-and-treatments/how-do-i-check-my-pulse/#:~:text=press%20the%20first%20(index)%20finger,or%20move%20your%20fingers%20around. Accessed April 1, 2021.
  7. NHS. Heart Failure – Symptoms. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-failure/symptoms/. Accessed March 23, 2021.
  8. Watson RDS, Gibbs CR, Lip GYH. Clinical features and complications. BMJ. 2000;320(7229):236‑9.
  9. NHS. Heart Failure – Diagnosis. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heart-failure/diagnosis/ Accessed March 08, 2021.
  10. Heart failure matters. Warning signs. https://www.heartfailurematters.org/en_GB/Warning-signs/Warning-signs. Accessed April 1, 2021.