Nurse Specialists Put Spotlight On Heart Failure

European Heart Failure Awareness Week (May 1st to May 7th)

‘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 Croí who recognise the important role Heart Failure Nurses Specialists play in heart failure care. “Croí 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 Croí’s CEO, Neil Johnson.

Heart Failure can be an alarming diagnosis, and many do not understand the term. To make it simple, 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 can be 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 assist 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 improved 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. This campaign supports the global heart ‘25in25’ initiative seeking to reduce heart failure deaths by 25% in the next 25 years.

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.

The president of the IAHFN, Mairead Lehane (Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Heart Failure, Mallow Hospital) has one simple message for those who may be concerned that they may have heart failure.

“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”.

IAHFN members all over Ireland will be running events to promote heart failure awareness across hospital and community sites during the week of May 1st to May 7th.

The IAHFN have devised a slogan for the “Let’s bump up the pump” campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms and to point people in the right direction regarding action for their GP to consider: “Ankles swollen, tired and out of puff- an NTproBNP test is just the stuff”.


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