Study finds millions of Australians unknowingly at risk of heart failure

July 6, 2024 BY

New research has found only one-in-three Australians are aware of the link between heart failure and kidney disease, while less than 50 per cent are aware of the link between heart failure and type 2 diabetes. Photo: FACEBOOK/HEARTS4HEART

More than four million Australians are not aware of the health conditions that can increase the risk of heart failure, new research has shown.

The study, conducted by YouGov on behalf of national heart disease support charity hearts4heart, surveyed a sample of 1,084 Australians aged 18 years and older between April 29 and May 1 this year.

It found that less than half of all respondents were aware of the links between heart failure and type 2 diabetes – a condition that affects 1.2 million people – and kidney disease, which affects approximately two million.

hearts4heart chief executive Tanya Hall, whose father died from heart failure at the age of 59, said the research was “concerning”.

“In particular, it is very troubling that only one-in-three Australians (32 per cent) are aware that kidney disease can increase their risk of heart failure,” she said.

“This condition is one of the major indicators of mortality risk in heart failure and can impact 44 per cent of Australians over the age of 75.

“Another comorbidity of concern is type 2 diabetes. This condition impacts 1.2 million Australians and is a high priority on the national health agenda, yet less than half of all Australians (46 per cent) are aware of the link between heart failure and type 2 diabetes.”

She said a lack of awareness of the health conditions that can increase the risk of heart failure, which also include an irregular heart rate or rhythm, high bloody pressure, obesity and iron deficiency, is putting a toll on Australia’s health at both a personal and national level.

“Heart failure is the number one cause of hospitalisations for those over the age of 65 and is estimated to cost the Australian health system $3.1 billion each year,” Ms Hall said.

Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body.

It is estimated to affect approximately 500,000 Australians, with almost 70,000 diagnosed each year – figures expected to increase alongside the nation’s growing and ageing population.

Cardiologist, Professor Andrew Sindone said living with heart failure comorbidities can take a toll on both physical and mental health and effective management, including getting your heart checked early, is crucial to ensure a better quality of life.

“Despite the name, heart failure doesn’t mean the heart has stopped or failed, it means that the heart is ‘failing’ to keep up with the body’s demands,” he said.

“A comorbidity, which is any co-existing health condition, is one contributing factor to heart failure if not properly managed, so it’s essential to speak to your GP to understand your risks and treat any underlying medical conditions you may have.”

Heart failure affects individuals differently and often has no symptoms in its early stages.

Professor Sindone said having early discussions with a GP can support early detection and heart failure intervention, helping to reduce the risk of life-threatening complications such as heart attack and stroke.

For more information, head to hearts4heart.org.au

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