WITH more than 14,000 people living with heart and circulatory diseases in West Lancashire, the NHS is encouraging people to think about boosting their heart health as part this heart failure awareness week (6-12 May).
Heart failure is a long-term condition meaning that your heart is not pumping blood around your body as effectively as it should. Typically, it is managed by lifestyle changes.
The most common symptoms are fluid retention (swollen ankles, legs and tummy), extreme tiredness and breathlessness, especially when lying flat. Other symptoms can include a persistent cough, lack of appetite, weight loss and a high heart rate. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, visit your GP.
As with many conditions and diseases, lifestyle choices are crucial and can impact someone’s levels of risk of developing heart problems. Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, family history, high cholesterol, weight and diabetes. In West Lancashire, 63 per cent of adults are classed as overweight or obese, and more than 18,000 people have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Dr John Caine, West Lancashire GP and chair of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says:
“Heart failure does not mean your heart stops, just that it is not working as it should.
“In West Lancashire, more than 1,250 people have been diagnosed with heart failure by their GP, but prevention is always best and there are clear risk factors associated with heart failure, many of which can be easily controlled with careful adjustments to lifestyle choices while boosting general health and wellbeing.
“The evidence is clear – we need to work together and educate people how to take control of their own health and minimise their risk”.
Visit www.nhs.uk and search ‘healthy body’ to see suggested healthy heart tips, which include giving up smoking and getting more active. The NHS online resource has a top a 10 health heart tips section, which if adopted can help us all to ensure that we keep our heart healthy.
Nick Hartshorne-Evans, founder of the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, the heart failure charity added: “Heart failure is caused by many different reasons, from heart attacks, high blood pressure and diabetes to name a few.
“If you feel some of the signs and symptoms of heart failure like severe breathlessness, extreme fatigue and swelling in the ankles and legs, please visit your GP, who following a simple blood test may refer you to a hospital for further tests. If it is thought you may have signs of heart failure you will then be referred to a heart failure specialist. It is important that if you have a diagnosis of heart failure, being on the correct medications with access to heart failure specialists and self-managing may mean you have a better quality of life.
Heart failure awareness week runs from 6-12 May. Search #suckalemonchallenge to find out how you can help raise awareness of heart failure, or visit their website: www.pumpingmarvellous.org