There’s a common misconception that only seniors suffer from heart-related illnesses. But that’s simply not true.
Heart failure is a disease that affects Canadians of all ages. More than half a million Canadians are affected by heart failure, it’s the most rapidly rising cardiovascular disease in the country, and to date there is no cure.
It occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. As heart failure is a chronic and often complex condition, no two patient cases are the same. It can take years to develop, or it can happen quickly at times.
But what causes this specific heart condition? Here’s the thing: There are many factors.
The most common causes of heart failure include heart attack, heart valve disease, high blood pressure, an irregular heart rhythm, certain infections of the heart, or heart problems you were born with.
Today, heart failure is affecting more than 26 million people globally, and it’s increasing in prevalence. To put that into perspective, as many as one in five people over the age of 40 will develop the disease in their lifetime. Despite this, many people are still unaware of what the illness is and how it could affect them.
But Canada’s first and only patient-led organization for heart failure patient and caregiver advocacy, the HeartLife Foundation, is working to change that. The federal charity actively raises public awareness of heart failure, engaging patients and families, providing support and education, as well as facilitating access to the latest research.
In May, the HeartLife Foundation joined The Global Heart Hub and over 20 organizations across 15 countries worldwide, to raise a flag on heart failure and the symptoms of the disease. Because when patients are diagnosed early, they can receive effective treatment.
Heart failure signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Extreme tiredness or no energy
- Loss of appetite
- More frequent urination, especially at night
- Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Shortness of breath, even when lying down
- Swelling in the ankles/feet/stomach
- Weight gain over a short period of time (>2kg over 2 days)
If you’re experiencing one of these signs alone, it may not be a cause for concern. However, if you have one or more of these symptoms (even if you have not had any previous heart problems), The Global Heart Hub recommends visiting your GP to talk about heart failure.
If you or someone you know is affected by this chronic disease, the HeartLife Foundation offers a closed online support group that lets you join the conversation.