COVID-19: Advice for individuals living with Heart Failure

This advice is based on information from the Heart Failure Patient Council of the Global Heart Hub. Croí is a member of the Global Heart Hub.

Covid-19 presents the world with an unprecedented public health challenge. Its rapid spread has caused significant alarm and disruption across the globe. Understandably, those living with heart disease and heart failure are anxious and concerned.

It is well established that many virus infections can affect the heart, and experts suspect that coronavirus is no different. Viruses are known to induce inflammation of the myocardium (heart muscle). While in a healthy patient this may not lead to an adverse outcome, the situation for those living with heart disease and heart failure is different. Evidence suggests that if these individuals become infected with coronavirus they are at greater risk of adverse cardiac events and the outcomes may be poor.

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. With the number of cases around the world increasing on a daily basis, hospitals are experiencing an unprecedented increase inpatient admissions. Consequently, hospitals are cancelling clinics and l non-urgent activity.  Only urgent and emergency cases are being treated to reduce the strain on staffing and beds, and prevent vulnerable patients being exposed to the COVID-19 virus unnecessarily.

It is important to remember that hospitals will continue to treat heart patients, but the current pressures may result in delays, cancellations of appointments and disruption of services. The decisions on who will be treated will be based on clinical need, with those in most need of treatment being prioritised.

For further information on COVID-19 virus and symptoms see Croí’s advice here.

 

Staying well

For those living with Heart Failure:

  • Take all your medicines as advised by your doctor or nurse.
  • Do your best to follow all your medical advice on how to keep your condition well controlled.
  • Continue to self-monitor your condition and record your weight on a daily basis (first thing after you get out of bed in the morning).
  • Stay in regular contact with family, friends or neighbours as you may need to ask for help if you become sick.
  • Maintain a healthy diet – unless you have been advised to adhere to a specially prescribed diet, you should continue to try and eat a wide variety of foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and other essential nutrients.

For Family and Caregivers:

  • Know what medications are prescribed and make sure supplies are secure.
  • Watch for new symptoms.
  • Prepare a plan to make sure food and other supplies are available when needed.
  • Consider options and have a plan for what would happen if you become ill.

 

What should I do if I experience gradual or persistent worsening symptoms of Heart Failure, such as my weight increasing or my legs swelling?

Self-monitoring of your condition on a daily basis is very important. It is equally important that you take your daily medicines as prescribed by your doctor.

If you experience any of the following worsening of symptoms, you should contact your GP, if available your Heart Failure Nurse or your local Heart Failure Clinic for advice and review of your medication. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 many hospital staff have been redeployed. If you are unable to contact you heart failure nurse or team please contact your GP or local emergency department if you are concerned.

Worsening symptoms to look out for:

  • Weight increase greater than 3lb overnight or 5 lb (2kg) in a week .
  • Increased swelling in the legs or abdomen.
  • Increased shortness of breath on exertion, lying down or in bed at night.

If you have very sudden or very severe symptoms call for an ambulance so that you can be taken to hospital for treatment as soon as possible.

 

STAY CALM!

It is perfectly understandable that people may be feeling anxious or concerned about what might happen to them or their loved ones over the coming months. However, we must remind ourselves that this crisis will end. Only seek information from reliable sources – there is a huge amount of ‘fake news’ and false rumours which do nothing more than cause unnecessary anxiety and distress.

Already many heart patients are slow to respond to changes in their health or they are dismissing new symptoms because they do not wish to burden their doctor or local hospital. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, doctors and emergency rooms are still there to help heart patients so do not ignore worrying symptoms or delay in contacting them if you are unwell. Keep up to date with your local health information notices on how best to contact your GP or Heart Failure Nurse.  The Heart Failure Patient Council of the Global Heart Hub are being advised by medical and public health experts and we will keep you updated on any changes in information that could affect those living with Heart Failure.

 

See Croí’s health page for more information on heart failure.

The Croí Health Team is here as always if you need support. Contact us by email at healthteam@croi.ie or call 091-544310.

Global Coalition on Aging Launches Cross-Sector Global Alliance

Croí is a partner of GCOA

Global Coalition On Aging Launches Cross-Sector Global Alliance To Promote Greater Attention To And Action On Heart Failure As A Path To Healthier Aging And Health System Cost Savings

Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging brings together experts across the cardiovascular, aging, economics, policy, and communications fields to slow the impact of heart failure as we age through earlier diagnosis and treatment, better care, and awareness

New York – 14 November 2019 – Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) is launching the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging (the Alliance), recognizing that while heart failure does increase in prevalence with age, it is not a normal part of aging. More than 30 organizations, including advocacy groups, global businesses, and care providers, have united to better quantify the full scope and scale of heart failure risk as the global population over 60 will reach 2 billion by mid-century.

The creation of the Alliance follows 18 months of roundtables, research, and analysis from global leaders across sectors and areas of expertise. This work has led to the realization that heart failure is too often misunderstood by patients, caregivers, policy makers, payers, the general public, and healthcare professionals themselves, leading to a collaborative commitment to promote better practice and awareness of heart failure diagnosis, treatment, and care.

“The increasing global prevalence of heart failure, linked in large part to demographic aging, underscores the urgency of raising its visibility as a global health priority and of addressing it in new and innovative ways,” said Michael W. Hodin, CEO of GCOA. “Early, common and prevailing symptoms of heart failure, like fatigue or shortness of breath, for example, are too often dismissed as simply a normal part of getting older. This complacency unfortunately perpetuates a culture of ageism in many forms—self-inflicted, ingrained in the healthcare system, among patients and family members, and across society.”

The Alliance was created to shine a light on this connection between heart failure and aging and to spur collaborative action across sectors and areas of expertise. To that end, the Alliance Partners are putting forth a Consensus Statement calling on policy makers, healthcare professionals, patient advocates, NGOs, and others interested in addressing the needs of the growing global aging population to take action to educate, raise awareness, and boost research on heart failure and healthier and more active aging.

We know that 26 million people worldwide are affected by heart failure—more than the population of Australia. Over 80% of people living with heart failure in Europe and in the United States are over 65, and heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalization in older adults as well as the leading cause of unplanned hospital readmissions. In the United States, the economic consequence is expected to be a 127% increase in costs to health systems between 2014 and 2030.

The Alliance has already been focused on a number of initiatives at the intersection of aging and heart failure, conducting research and writing reports on clinical best practices across the global heart failure landscape and on the impact on hospitals and health systems when diagnosis is missed or delayed until an acute care situation.

“The economic implications of heart failure for hospital systems, public and private payers, and therefore society at large are huge, especially when you consider the cases that are misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late,” said Nick Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, a research partner of the Alliance. “Many diseases and conditions that are often associated with aging could be avoided with earlier detection that comes from a better understanding of symptoms.  But in the case of heart failure, we still need clarity of what is at stake given this connection to aging.”

The Alliance structure consists of (1) the Partners representing the global, cross-sector, and cross-discipline nature of the initiative; (2) the Secretariat housed within GCOA to execute upon Alliance strategies; and (3) the Governing Committee, which will work closely with the Secretariat to guide the Alliance agenda, serve as strategic advisors, lend expertise, and enhance the credibility and positioning of heart failure as we age with policy makers, healthcare professionals, caregivers, patients and families.

Inaugural Governing Committee members include: Holly S. Andersen, MD, FACC, Attending Cardiologist, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of Education & Outreach, The Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute, The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center; Michele Bolles, National Vice President of Quality and Health IT, American Heart Association; Salvatore di Somma, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Director of Emergency Medicine, Chairman of Postgraduate School of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medical-Surgery Sciences and Translational Medicine, University La Sapienza Rome, Sant’Andrea Hospital; President, GREAT Network Italy; Jean-Luc Eiselé, CEO, World Heart Federation; Daniel E. Forman, MD, FAHA, FACC, Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Chair, Section of Geriatric Cardiology, Divisions of Geriatrics and Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Director of Emerging Therapeutics, Aging Institute, University of Pittsburgh; Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation and GeroFit, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System; Physician Scientist, Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System; Neil Johnson, Non-Executive Director/Founding Member, Global Heart Hub; Chief Executive, Croí—West of Ireland Cardiac & Stroke Foundation; Sue Koob, CEO, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association; and Marc Wortmann, former Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Disease International.

“Eighty-six percent of our members care for patients with heart failure,” said Koob, an Alliance Governing Committee member. “They play a key role in the overall prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and are critical in establishing strong relationships between patients and hospitals. PCNA is proud to drive greater awareness of and global action on heart failure as part of the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging.”

In addition to the 2019 Alliance projects, the Alliance has a robust research, communications, and advocacy agenda for 2020, including engagement in the World Health Organization’s Decade of Healthy Ageing, to be launched at the World Health Assembly in May 2020, which will mark a major milestone in elevating heart failure on the global policy agenda.

“Heart failure is currently not prioritized because it is not well understood by those most affected, including patients themselves,” said Hodin. “But, one-in-five of us can expect to live with heart failure at some point in our lives. Through the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging, we are calling on all stakeholders to make healthy aging a reality for those living with or at risk of heart failure.”

ABOUT THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE ON HEART FAILURE & HEALTHY AGING

The Global Alliance on Heart Failure & Healthy Aging is the result of a series of successive roundtables convened by the Global Coalition on Aging in New York, Brussels, and Chicago throughout 2018. The meetings collectively brought together more than 70 experts from across sectors, disciplines and geographies who identified the connection between heart failure and aging as a new opportunity to improve patients’ quality of life, better meet patient and caregiver needs, and better manage health systems costs related to heart failure by diagnosing patients as early as possible and ensuring their access to the best available treatments. The Alliance is made possible through funding and support from GCOA members Novartis and Amgen.

 

About the Global Coalition on Aging

The Global Coalition on Aging aims to reshape how global leaders approach and prepare for the 21st century’s profound shift in population aging. GCOA uniquely brings together global corporations across industry sectors with common strategic interests in aging populations, a comprehensive and systemic understanding of aging, and an optimistic view of its impact. Through research, public policy analysis, advocacy, and strategic communications, GCOA is advancing innovative solutions and working to ensure global aging is a path to health, productivity and economic growth. For more information, visit www.globalcoalitiononaging.com.

Awareness of heart failure remains low

Pictured l-r: Dr Fiona Ryan, director of clinical trials at The Heartbeat Trust; Frank O’Neill, patient at The Heartbeat Trust; Tom Dunne, national broadcaster and heart disease patient; Olive Cummins, general manager of the Heartbeat Trust and Dr Ambrose McLoughlin, chair of the Heartbeat Trust. Photograph: Bryan Brophy

Almost 200 people are diagnosed with heart failure every week in Ireland – that is 10,000 people per year – yet awareness of the condition remains low, the national heart failure charity, the Heartbeat Trust, has warned.

With heart failure, the heart does not work as efficiently as it should. As a result, the blood cannot deliver enough oxygen and nourishment to the body to allow it to work normally. Heart failure often develops because of another medical condition, such as a heart attack or high blood pressure.

Previous research carried out by the Heartbeat Trust found that over 7% of all hospital bed stays could be attributed to heart failure and the total annual cost of the condition is around €660 million.

The charity has partnered with the Galway heart charity, Croí, to raise awareness of heart failure. Both organisations are members of the Global Heart Hub, which recently launched the Red Flag campaign in Ireland. This aims to educate people on the five key symptoms of heart failure, which are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles or legs
  • Sudden weight gain (2kg over two days)
  • Poor appetite
  • Tiredness.

“Treatment aimed at managing heart failure is improving, however awareness remains a problem. This is why opportunities to raise public awareness about the main symptoms are so vital.

“The Red Flag campaign is designed to inform people that if they have some, or all of these symptoms, they should go to their GP. Ultimately, we know that the earlier we detect the onset of heart failure, the better the patient outcome,” explained the Heartbeat Trust’s medical director, Prof Ken McDonald.

The Red Flag campaign is supported by broadcaster and musician, Tom Dunne, who underwent serious heart surgery in November 2018.

“Having undergone such serious heart surgery so recently, and being told I had a 70% chance of dying in the next two years if I didn’t have the surgery immediately, I know only too well how important heart failure awareness is.

“I originally had a heart murmur diagnosed 10 years prior to my surgery and I also found out that I had a genetic heart condition. I had no existing heart failure symptoms from what I can recall, but knowing that there are five key red flag symptoms that people should recognise is really crucial for heart failure prevention,” Mr Dunne said.

Frank O’Neill attends the STOP HF Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. This is a screening service aimed at the prevention and early detection of heart failure.

“I was referred to the clinic in 2007 after seeing my GP who was treating me for diabetes. In 2011, as part of an annual check-up, I found out that I had experienced a silent myocardial infarction (heart attack).

“Over the years, a lot of trust has been built up between myself and the team. I feel like the screening service is my guardian angel and am very grateful that they are there. I think that heart failure prevention screening should be available everywhere,” Mr O’Neill said.

The Red Flag campaign was launched to coincide with European Heart Failure Awareness Month (May).

Article written by Deborah Condon and published 29/5/2019 in Irish Health Pro http://bit.ly/2I8xJDn

Michael’s Heart Failure Story

Michael Delapp is 69 years old. He lives in Clifden with his wife, Jane. He has two adult sons.

He is also living with heart failure.

Michael suffered a heart attack in 2005, causing permanent damage to the heart muscle. As a result, Michael had a stent fitted to help blood to flow freely, and subsequently was fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is small electrical device that monitors the rhythm of your heartbeat. When it detects an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia) it works to restore the normal heartbeat.

Michael was diagnosed with heart failure very soon after the heart attack because of the damage this caused to his heart. He experienced the common symptoms of heart failure, including fatigue, shortness of breath when at rest and fluid retention.

He said his heart failure had a significant psychological impact on him. “I had been a powerful guy…after the heart attack, it was like I’d aged 50 years…It also had a huge impact on my family. I was no longer the invincible Dad. I really hit rock-bottom. Unfortunately when I left hospital I felt quite alone, I didn’t know where to turn.

I feel it’s very important for people to get as much information as possible on the condition, and on the support that’s available. Once I was put in touch with a heart failure Nurse Specialist, Mary O’Sullivan, I felt much better. She told me to forget the life I had, and to focus on the one I have now. That had a major impact on me – I realised I wouldn’t be able to recover if I didn’t accept where I was at.”

Michael went on to be referred by his doctor to Croí’s CLANN Programme, a specialised 10-week, healthy lifestyle initiative which aims to help individuals achieve a healthy weight and shape through physical activity and healthy eating.

Michael said the programme had a huge impact on his life. He was able to cut down his weight and he says it helped him build his confidence back up, as he had been afraid to exercise after his heart attack. He went on to say “I didn’t realise I could do as much as I could. Everyone was closely monitored, and your programme was individually tailored to you. Partaking in the programme helped me with my confidence, and with managing my diet and lifestyle. It also gave me much more independence.

In addition, it had a profound impact on my outlook. I now have a very positive mindset, and I’m much happier in myself. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t gotten some support.”

When asked if he had any advice for those experiencing symptoms, or those who have been recently diagnosed with heart failure, Michael said “Get as much information as you can… find out what’s available to you when you get diagnosed, it can make all the difference to how you feel going forward.”

Michael was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Michael is raising the flag on heart failure this May.

Raise the Flag

“Get as much information as you can… find out what’s available to you when you get diagnosed, it can make all the difference to how you feel going forward.”

Marc’s Heart Failure Story

Marc is 44 years old. He lives in Roscommon, near Carrick on Shannon, with his wife Geraldine and their two children who are 10 and 5 years old. He now works as a Surveyor, but used to work for Irish Rail as a breakdown mechanic.

He is also living with heart failure.

Marc suffered a suspected stroke in 2009, and was then diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy in 2011 – aged just 36. He subsequently developed heart failure.

Marc’s first symptom of heart failure was a feeling of fatigue. “At the time I was working in a very physical job, and had to travel a lot for work – sometimes working 60 hours a week. This meant I was away from home a lot, staying in hotels and eating on the go. I don’t think it was a very healthy lifestyle, and thought that was why I was feeling so tired.”

Marc was fitted with an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) to treat the underlying problem that led to heart failure. The ICD monitors Marc’s heart rhythm and paces the heart or shocks it back into a normal rhythm. “My life has changed a lot since my diagnosis. I have had to change jobs, and it’s been difficult with a young family. But I’m feeling much better now with the ICD, it has improved my symptoms.” 

When asked in he had any advice for those experiencing symptoms of heart failure, he said “Go to the doctor. I didn’t until I was in a bad way, I thought I had just been working too hard and was feeling tired. If you’re worried – speak to your doctor.”

Marc was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Marc is raising the flag on heart failure this May

Raise the Flag

“Go to the doctor. I didn’t until I was in a bad way, I thought I had just been working too hard and was feeling tired. If you’re worried – speak to your doctor.”

Kay’s Heart Failure Story

Kay Flynn is 67 years old. She lives in Sligo with her husband, Michael, where she worked as a registrar for the HSÉ. She has two grown up children and one grandchild.

She is also living with heart failure.

Kay had a heart incident in November 2012, while on her lunch break from work. She went into cardiac arrest on her way into the hairdressers and was in an induced coma for three days. Following on from this incident, Kay was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Because of the damaged caused by the cardiac arrest, Kay then went on to develop heart failure.

As part of her treatment for Cardiomyopathy, Kay was fitted with an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator). Both of Kay’s children also have this condition, with her son experiencing a very similar cardiac arrest aged 42, for which he was subsequently fitted with an ICD. Her daughter was then fitted with an ICD as a precautionary measure.

Kay experienced no symptoms prior to her cardiac arrest, and doesn’t recall experiencing symptoms of heart failure prior to her diagnosis. She had been ill with cancer two years prior to her cardiac arrest, and had received chemotherapy. Kay also had a family history of heart problems, with both of her parents dying from heart incidents.

When asked if she had any advice for those experiencing symptoms or worried about heart failure, she said “Go and get checked – if you have any symptoms, even if you might think they’re innocent – get checked. I would especially urge those with a family history or more than one symptom to get checked immediately.”

Kay is currently doing a cardiac rehab course in Sligo – and is now feeling much better thanks to the care she has received, though she does still experience some symptoms, such as breathlessness.

Kay Flynn was interviewed by Croí on her experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Kay is raising the flag on heart failure this May

Raise the Flag

“Go and get checked – if you have any symptoms, even if you might think they’re innocent – get checked. I would especially urge those with a family history or more than one symptom to get checked immediately.”`

David’s Heart Failure Story

David Best is 79 years old. He lives in Sligo with his wife, Dympna, where he worked in banking and went on to become a company representative for a financial company. He has five grown up children and two grandchildren.

He is also living with heart failure.

Prior to having a triple bypass in 2004, he was very active, “I’d cycle 50 miles up to the mountains in Sligo. I also loved to swim. After the operation, I managed to keep up the swimming.”

“It all came as a surprise. I was having a medical done and was sent for a scan and they discovered I had 3 blocked arteries. After I came out of the operation I was a new man – it was like a re-birth.”

Because of the damage to his heart muscle, David went on to develop heart failure. Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should.

When asked if he had any advice for anyone experiencing symptoms of heart failure, he said, “I would say to anyone experiencing any symptoms to go and get checked sooner rather than later. You might think some of the symptoms are innocent. Just get it checked out.”

He continued, “Men are desperate at getting checked when they think there’s a problem… you make excuses. I thought how I was feeling was a normal part of getting older. I worked in a high-pressure job and I was very busy with work. I think that’s why I didn’t take much notice of how I was feeling.”

He continued,  “It suddenly hits you that it’s having an impact on your family too. They worry about you. That’s why I enjoy going to heart failure support classes and meeting other people who have had similar experiences. You build up a bond and it has helped me build my confidence back up.”

David Best was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

David Best is raising the flag on heart failure this May.

Raise the Flag

“I would say to anyone experiencing any symptoms to go and get checked sooner rather than later. You might think some of the symptoms are innocent. Just get it checked out.”

Attracta’s Story

Attracta is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Heart Failure, working in Sligo University Hospital. When asked why she chose to specialise in heart failure, she answered “I’ve always been interested in the heart. I was working in coronary care, and decided to specialise in heart failure.”

She continued “I understand it can be very worrying for people living with heart failure – but in my experience, if people get the right support – and there is support out there – patients can live full lives. It’s so important for heart failure patients to have that outlet. There are support groups people can join, and we also have a support line where patients can ring into the clinic if they have any questions. We’ve been running the support group in Sligo for around four years now, and this has been hugely advantageous to our patients.”

“I’m raising the flag this May to let people know there is a lot of help and support out there – don’t be afraid to ask for it.

If you are experiencing any symptoms, don’t wait. Go and get checked immediately. It’s important to get diagnosed in order to receive the right package of care. It’s important once you have your diagnosis to reach out for support– join a support group, find out what’s available in your area. A lot of our patients also do modified exercise classes, and this can make a big difference to how you’re feeling.”

Attracta Madden was interviewed as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Attracta Madden is raising the flag on heart failure this May.

Raise the Flag

It’s important to get diagnosed in order to receive the right package of care.

University Hospital Galway Raise the Flag on Heart Failure this May

Pictured from left: Annette Irving, Irish Heart Failure Alliance; Dr. John Barton, Heart Failure Consultant, GUH; Mary O’Sullivan, Heart Failure Clinical Nurse Specialist, GUH; Geraldine Murray, Director of Nursing, GUH; Emer Burke, Clinical Nurse Specialist, GUH; Liam Martin, Irish Heart Failure Alliance.

Croí, the Heart & Stroke Charity visited University Hospital Galway with the Heart Failure Patient Alliance on May 10th to mark the launch of #RaisetheFlag, a campaign to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. For those experiencing symptoms, we encourage them to visit their GP and ask the question “Could I have heart failure?” For more information, please visit www.globalhearthub.org/raisetheflag

Gerald’s Heart Failure Story

Gerald McTernan is 72 years old. He lives in Leitrim with his wife Nora, where he worked for the ESB and used to farm. He has two adult children as well as two grandchildren.

He is also living with heart failure.

Gerald had open heart surgery in September 2014. Subsequently while in for a check-up, he complained of shortness of breath and fluid retention – and has now been diagnosed with heart failure. 

He continued, “I was very strong, which meant I recovered. I used to play football, tug of war and I did weight lifting. I also worked on my farm which kept me fit. This illness has been very hard on me, it changed everything. Having to travel to Galway and Dublin for treatment and surgeries was very hard on my family, especially my wife.”

When asked if he had any advice for anyone experiencing symptoms of heart failure, Gerald added; “Get checked. Don’t put it off. I was relatively healthy and I didn’t smoke, so I wasn’t expecting it. It’s also very important you have a good doctor that you trust… that made all the difference.”

Gerald McTernan was interviewed by Croí on his experiences of Heart Failure as part of the Global Heart Hub ‘Red Flag Campaign’. This project aims to highlight the signs and symptoms of heart failure – and encourage those experiencing these symptoms to go to their GP and ask “Could it be heart failure?”

Croí is joining The Global Heart Hub and other organisations across 15 counties in this campaign to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure. The campaign can be followed online at #raisetheflag and www.globalhearthub.org.

Gerald is raising the flag on heart failure this month as part of the 'Red Flag Campaign'

Raise the Flag

“Get checked. Don’t put it off. I was relatively healthy and I don’t smoke, so I wasn’t expecting it. It’s also very important you have a good doctor that you trust… that made all the difference.”