What Do Patients Know About Heart Failure?

Patients have an unsatisfactory level of awareness about heart failure and harbor critical misconceptions, new research findings suggest.

Patients have an unsatisfactory level of awareness about heart failure and harbor critical misconceptions, new research findings suggest.

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) is an organization that seeks to understand the lay public’s awareness of heart failure’s clinical signs and symptoms, and it has emphasized the importance of early diagnosis and targeted treatment.

ESC’s Heart Failure Association holds Heart Failure Awareness Day educational sessions across Europe and plans future educational strategies from the information collected directly from the general public at these sessions.

Now, an article published in European Journal of Heart Failure details the ESC’s recent findings that show there is more work to be done to educate the public on heart failure.

The study investigators sponsored an anonymous 15-item English language voluntary questionnaire to visitors to hospital-based heart failure education sessions. Results were collected from 24 locations in 4 European countries: Germany, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovenia.

The surveys found that 82% of respondents were aware of heart failure prior to the educational sessions.

Patients were variably aware of common heart failure symptoms: shortness of breath (71%), tiredness (61%), and lower limb swelling (52%).

One in 9 patients surveyed incorrectly believed that bedrest is an appropriate treatment for heart failure. Some lay people (31%) also incorrectly associated heart failure with normal aging.

Only 38% believed that those with heart failure have poor prognosis following hospitalization.

Almost half of the respondents stated that they use the Internet as a primary source of information related to heart failure.

The study authors underestimated the utility of the Internet in this largely elderly population, of whom 60% were older than 60.

The study authors noted that current inadequate understanding and high prevalence of misconceptions about heart failure have been largely unchanged in the past 10 years.

The researchers asserted that improvements in education may improve quality of life, increase longevity, and help prevent heart failure.