New research reveals lack of 'heart' knowledge during flu season

20th November 2019

Our 2019 ‘Every Heart Matters’ campaign aims to encourage people to seek help if they have persistent flu or flu-like symptoms, breathlessness, chest pain, palpitations, swollen ankles or dizziness. We also want GP’s to check that flu like symptoms are not masking a more serious problem.

Read about our 2019 campaign here

Earlier this year, we surveyed over 2,000 people and found that 95% are unaware that persistent flu-like symptoms can be signs of the conditions, cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. Lack of awareness means the majority of people would not visit the GP with lingering flu-like symptoms.

This issue is paramount during winter, when people with lingering flu-like symptoms are 59% less likely to visit the GP, compared to the summer. If they feel unwell during flu season, they think serious symptoms a just a bug “going around”, will clear up on their own or just not something to bother the doctor with.

We also spoke to leading clinicians who shared our concern about the challenges that flu season present for the detection of cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. They will also be helping us to spread the word to healthcare professionals.

As part of this campaign, people with myocarditis who were originally told they had the flu will be sharing their stories with the media and we will be using social media to help make sure that we spread awareness to a wide an audience as possible.

Cardiomyopathy UK Chief Executive Joel Rose said: “During the winter flu season, it’s important that people recognise the signs and symptoms of cardiac diseases such as cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. With cases of flu and the common cold rife, people must listen to their body and ‘think heart’. If concerned, they should visit, or revisit, the GP as soon as possible.”

Carolyn's Story

Carolyn, a district nurse, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in 2017. Soon after starting a new job she developed a cough and phlegm which lasted for about a week. Carolyn visited her GP who confirmed a viral chest infection and advised rest.

Carolyn's symptoms continued to persist. She was admitted to hospital and following blood tests and an ECG, she was told she had heart failure, and the Echo showed she had dilated cardiomyopathy.

Read Caroyln's story here

Read our other stories here