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"Shocking" lack of awareness of heart failure symptoms among Irish public

87 per cent of people surveyed mistook these symptoms for ‘normal signs of ageing”.

THE IRISH HEART Foundation has described the level of awareness of the symptoms of health failure as “shocking”.

A new survey has revealed that just 7 per cent of people could identity three common symptoms of heart failure – shortness of breath, swollen ankles, and tiredness.

Others include a lack of appetite, nausea, confusion, impaired thinking, increased heart rate, persistent coughing or wheezing.

87 per cent mistook these symptoms for ‘normal signs of ageing”.

The survey from Novartis interviewed 11,000 people across Europe aged over 50, including 1,000 in Ireland, and the publication of which marks Heart Failure Awareness Day.

“It is shocking that so few people understand how common and life threatening the condition is,” Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, with the Irish Heart Foundation said.

Studies have shown that 60% of heart failure sufferers will die within five years of experiencing the condition, which is higher than many of the most common forms of cancer.

The survey also revealed that people were more afraid of suffering a stroke, advanced breast or bowel cancer, or a heart attack than heart failure.

Brown added that heart failure is having a “massive impact on our health services at a time when they are struggling to cope”.

Novartis, working with NUI Galway, are currently carrying out analysis as to just how much this will cost the State as the ageing population grows.

“Timely interventions would significantly improve patients’ quality of life and longevity – as well as making huge cost saving,” Brown added.

“I would hope that by creating more awareness about heart failure we can prevent unnecessary deaths.”

Read: PE teacher uses CPR to save the life of a Monaghan student who collapsed in class >

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