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Specialist Nurses Shine the Spotlight on Heart Failure Awareness

European Heart Failure Awareness Week occurs between 01 to 07 May. “Let’s Bump up the Pump” is a new campaign devised by the Irish Association of Heart Failure Nurses (IAHFN) to raise awareness around heart failure, with a focus on prevention, early detection and also to provide education around how to live well with this condition.

The campaign is supported by the heart and stroke charity Croi who recognise the important role Heart Failure Nurse Specialists play in heart failure care. “Croi is delighted to support the IAHFN in its campaign to raise awareness of heart failure and in particular to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms which are often dismissed or ignored. It is very important that people know the signs and symptoms and that they convey these to their doctor and ask could they have heart failure” says Croi CEO, Neil Johnson.

Heart Failure can be an alarming diagnosis, and many do not understand the term. Heart failure is a condition where the heart fails to pump or relax well enough to circulate sufficient blood to meet the body’s needs.  As a consequence, affected individuals can complain of breathlessness on exertion or at rest, swollen legs, and tiredness. It is a serious condition, left untreated heart failure is as deadly as cancer but there is good treatment out there, the key is in early diagnosis and to begin treatment as soon as possible to reduce death and disability from this disease.  Attending your GP for a simple blood test called NTproBNP can help support the diagnosis of Heart Failure and support to ‘detect the undetected’.

Heart Failure can happen for a variety of reasons, but is more common as we get older, in people with heart disease and in those with high blood pressure. It is a common condition affecting about 2% of the Irish population, rising to 10% in older age groups. Worryingly, there are about another 2% of the population who are currently undiagnosed, and trends are rising in terms of expected prevalence due to an aging population and better medical treatments.  The “Let’s bump up the pump” campaign aims to raise awareness to ensure earlier detection of those who are at risk of heart failure.

Staff from across the Saolta Group in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon and Community Healthcare West (CHW) are working together to roll out the Enhanced Community Care Programme, which provides greater levels of care in the community. This includes the creation of ambulatory hubs to facilitate GPs to refer patients such as those who have or are suspected to have heart failure, for diagnostics and access to expert opinion and support.

Dr Susan Connolly, Consultant Cardiologist at Galway University Hospitals and who is leading out on the Cardiovascular Ambulatory Hub in Galway said, “As part of the new Integrated Care Chronic Disease Management Programme in Saolta/CHW we are focusing on detecting heart failure earlier by providing GPs with more rapid access to diagnostics, by providing early access to specialist cardiology opinion and by having a skilled team of cardiovascular specialist nurses to help patients manage their condition and lead a normal life as possible. Don’t delay, if you or someone you know has these symptoms seek help – we are here to do our best for you.”
The “Let’s bump up the pump” campaign wants to bump up awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure, to bump up the number of those with an earlier diagnosis,  bump up knowledge of living with the condition and ultimately bump up survival for those living with heart failure. This campaign supports the global “25in25” initiative seeking to reduce heart failure deaths by 25% in the next 25 years.

Emer Burke, Advanced Nurse Practitioner with Galway University Hospitals and the Galway Integrated Heart Failure Service advises, “Anyone concerned about symptoms of heart failure please contact your GP for an assessment – Ask about the NTProBNP test. The earlier you get diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin which can potentially alter the course of this serious disease, with treatment you can live well with heart failure.”


Photo caption:
Dr Susan Connolly, Integrated Care Consultant Cardiologist in Cardiovascular Disease at Galway Ambulatory Hub and Niamh Elwood, Integrated Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Cardiovascular Disease, Galway Ambulatory Hub.



The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
University Hospital Galway (UHG)