Early Warning Signs of Heart Failure Affect Nearly Half of UK Patients, British Heart Foundation Warns

The British Heart Foundation reports that almost half of heart failure patients in the UK exhibit early warning signs that could prevent serious illness if detected. Early symptoms include swollen ankles, breathlessness, fatigue, and lightheadedness, and prompt medical attention can improve outcomes.

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Early Warning Signs of Heart Failure Affect Nearly Half of UK Patients, British Heart Foundation Warns

Early Warning Signs of Heart Failure Affect Nearly Half of UK Patients, British Heart Foundation Warns

The British Heart Foundation reports that almost half of heart failure patients in the UK exhibit early warning signs that, if detected, could prevent serious illness. Heart failure, a condition that affects around 1 million people in the UK, occurs when the heart struggles to pump blood effectively throughout the body, often as a result of weakness or stiffness.

Why this matters: Early detection and prevention of heart failure can significantly reduce the economic burden on the healthcare system and improve the quality of life for millions of people. Moreover, raising awareness about experts, feet, heart health can lead to a reduction in cardiovascular diseases, which are a leading cause of death worldwide.

Early symptoms to watch out for include swollen ankles and legs (oedema) caused by fluid buildup, breathlessness during activity or rest that worsens when lying down, persistent fatigue, and lightheadedness or fainting. Less common signs are depression, anxiety, wheezing, and loss of appetite. "Heart failure means that the heart isn't working properly," experts say, the British Heart Foundation explains. "One effect of this can be extra fluid in your body. This can cause rapid weight gain and can cause swelling in the ankles, feet or legs, or sometimes around the stomach. Fluid can also build up in the lungs, which can cause breathlessness."

The development of heart failure can be attributed to various factors, including heart attacks, cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle), high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, heart rhythm problems, valve damage or defects, and congenital heart disease. Recognizing and addressing these risk factors is essential in preventing the onset and progression of heart failure.

The British Heart Foundation stresses the importance of early detection, as ignoring key symptoms can lead to serious illness. However, prompt treatment through medication and lifestyle changes can significantly improve outcomes and reduce the chances of heart failure worsening. Individuals are advised to seek medical attention from their GP if symptoms persist or worsen over time.

The NHS provides guidance for those experiencing potential signs of heart failure. If swollen ankles, feet, or legs do not improve within a few days or continue to worsen, contacting a GP is recommended. Additionally, individuals should seek medical advice if they experience breathlessness, fatigue, or other concerning symptoms.

The British Heart Foundation's findings highlight the critical importance of recognizing early signs and symptoms of heart failure. By taking prompt action, individuals can potentially prevent serious complications and improve their quality of life. The public is urged to remain vigilant about their heart health and seek timely medical assistance when necessary.

Key Takeaways

  • Almost half of heart failure patients in the UK show early warning signs that can prevent serious illness.
  • Early detection can reduce economic burden on healthcare and improve quality of life for millions.
  • Watch for symptoms like swollen ankles, breathlessness, fatigue, and lightheadedness.
  • Risk factors include heart attacks, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease.
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen over time.