A new video released today by NPS MedicineWise and the Heart Foundation tells a personal story about living with heart failure. While a diagnosis of heart failure can be frightening, there are actions people can take to feel better, stay out of hospital, and live a longer, healthier life.
Heart failure is a condition where your heart isn’t pumping blood around your body as well as it should. There are 480,000 Australians affected by heart failure and it is associated with high rates of hospitalisation and death. Only 1 in 2 people with heart failure are alive 5 years after diagnosis. However early diagnosis of heart failure and effective management can help people stay alive, well and out of hospital.
Grace Castro tells of her experience living with heart failure in the new video from NPS MedicineWise and the Heart Foundation.
“I am a mum of four children, and about 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with heart failure,” says Ms Castro.
“The moment I took the decision to be involved in my heart health, I went from being in hospital every two weeks, to five or six readmissions in the last three years,” she says.
NPS MedicineWise medical advisor and GP Dr Caroline West says if you have heart failure, taking an active role can make such a difference to your quality of life.
“This means taking your heart failure medicines as directed, even if you are feeling well. Some medicines for other conditions, for example ibuprofen for pain available over the counter, can make heart failure worse, so keeping track of all of your medicines is important.
“Taking an active role means you may need to monitor your salt and fluid intake and watch for sudden changes in weight and fluid build-up. Depending on the situation, as part of your action plan, you may need to contact your doctor for advice,” she says.
Ms Castro shares some advice for people with heart failure – tips that have really made a difference for her.
“Ask questions. Don’t leave the hospital in doubt. The more you understand, the easier it becomes.
“One of the things I kick myself for is not taking my medicines consistently in the beginning. When you take your medicines like your cardiologist said, it helps you – you notice the difference. Don’t learn the hard way like me!
“Its really crucial to have your go-to people – your GP, your pharmacist and your cardiologist. They are three people that work together for your care.
“Stay active – both physically and mentally and take advantage of the help that is out there,” she says.
Heart Foundation Manager of Clinical Evidence, Dr Amanda Buttery PhD fully supports Grace’s advice.
“Heart failure is a serious condition that needs lifelong management. Keeping active and signing up to a heart failure management program or cardiac rehabilitation can help people live longer and healthier lives.”
Learn more about heart failure and the national education campaign from NPS MedicineWise and the Heart Foundation at the NPS MedicineWise heart failure information hub.