Heart failure, a largely misunderstood pathology – Le Monde

Heart failure, a largely misunderstood pathology – Le Monde

Better detection of heart failure is a major concern, according to Medicare. The observation is instructive: 1.5 million people are affected in France and this pathology, which affects 10% of people over 70, is expected to increase by 25% every four years, mainly due to the aging of the population. This number is already so high that it is an underestimate: “There would be 400,000 to 600,000 people who would not be diagnosed”, warns Dominique Martin, medical adviser to the National Health Insurance. In the face of this observation, the information campaign “Heart failure, what if your heart was trying to tell you something?” was launched from September 25 for five weeks. It is about improving knowledge about heart failure among the general public, as well as among health professionals.

Four symptoms, grouped by cardiologists under the acronym “EPOF”, should be monitored: shortness of breath on exertion and/or lying down; significant weight gain in a few days; edema of the lower limbs – swelling of the legs and feet -; significant fatigue even with little effort, which leads to a decrease in activity, with worsening loss of muscle mass. “These four symptoms, which are present in isolation, are not specific to the disease, but their combination or their recent occurrence should indicate heart failure.”says Medicare.

If the general public knows that chest pain may be a violation coronary arteries, angina pectoris or heart attack, knows little about heart failure. This is according to a BVA survey of six-year-olds for Medicare, presented on Tuesday 20 September. More worryingly, they claim they do not systematically discuss the occurrence of these symptoms with their doctor, who himself only mentions these warning signs in just over a third of his patients over 60, according to this survey.

Support too late

“It is a condition that is largely invisible in its early stages and whose symptoms can be partly confused with signs of aging or other causes that could lead to fatigue and shortness of breath.”, explains Dominique Martin. However, these signs must be monitored, especially after the age of 60. “Ignorance of the symptoms of this disease and underuse of the term ‘heart failure’ by the general public are partly responsible for diagnosis and treatment that is often too late.”also highlighted the plea for better care in September 2021, coordinated by the Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Group (GICC) of the French Society of Cardiology.

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