Heart failure is one of the biggest heart issues affecting people in Monmouthshire, with some 1,600 diagnosed cases. But as national Heart Month gets under way [February 2023], local heart charity the North Gwent Cardiac Rehabilitation and Aftercare Charity warns that the true number is probably much higher, with many people going undiagnosed until they are admitted to hospital with advanced heart failure and serious complications.
“Heart failure is the term used when your heart can’t pump blood around your body as well as it should, and needs treatment to help it work better,” explains charity chair Jacky Miles MBE, Associate Professor with the School of Care Sciences at the University of South Wales
“It can be caused by damage to your heart – most commonly as the result of a heart attack or high blood pressure. But in Wales some 50 per cent of cases are due to coronary heart disease, where the arteries supplying your heart muscle become narrowed by fatty deposits, starving it of the oxygen-rich blood it needs to work efficiently.”
The three key symptoms are Fighting for or shortness of breath, Fatigue or lack of energy, and Fluid build-up, often noticeable as puffy feet and ankles and unexplained weight gain.
The good news, says Jacky, is that modern drug treatment coupled with monitoring by your healthcare team and a programme of regular cardiac rehab exercise can significantly improve and extend the lives of people living with heart failure.
“And as an added bonus, regular exercise can also help you stay out of hospital and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious complications.”
The British Society for Heart Failure recommends seeking medical advice as soon as possible if you recognise the following symptoms – the 3 Fs – in yourself or those you care for:
Fighting for breath
Early diagnosis and referral to a specialist can significantly improve outcomes – as can taking part in appropriate cardiac rehab exercise.
• The charity runs 10 x weekly cardiac rehab exercise classes at venues across Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent.
For details of how to join, visit cardiac-rehab.org.uk, email [email protected] or call 07856 629148.