Heart failure confuses people, study shows

14th July 2015

People are confused about heart failure, new study confirms.

A survey to increase awareness of heart failure has shown that many people are confused by the term and what it means.

Seven in ten of the 1,600 people questions had heard about heart failure but two thirds confused signs of it and a heart attack. Half of respondents got the basic facts wrong.

Heart failure

Heart failure is a term used when the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure to meet its needs.

It usually occurs when the heart muscle has become too weak and needs help, usually in the form of drug treatments, to pump more efficiently. It does not mean your heart is about to stop working.

But almost six in ten (58 per cent) thought it was a natural cause of death that occurred when the heart stopped beating,

Almost half (46%) thought it was "a silent killer with no symptoms."

The American Heart Association (AHA) announced the survey results in a press release. The survey was commissioned with support from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, which has just had its new heart failure drug LCZ696 (Entresto) approved by the country's regulatory body, the Food and Drug Administration.

The 200 people caring for heart failure patients did better in the survey, more often correctly identifying the signs and symptoms of the condition than the patients polled.

The caregivers also reported feeling more affected than the patients did:

  • 71% versus 56% said heart failure affected their relationships
  • 86% versus 54% said the condition affected their ability to travel
  • 82% versus 65% said it affected joining in family events
  • 87% versus 71% said it affected their ability to enjoy their hobbies
  • 75% versus 63% reported feeling anxious from dealing with heart failure
  • 69% versus 56% reported depression as a result of dealing with heart failure

AHA conducted the survey, published on MedPage Today, as the first in a series on heart failure knowledge, awareness, impact, and attitudes.