Heart failure: patient support associations and patients raise alarm
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    Heart failure: patient support associations and patients raise alarm

    The so-called European Heart Failure Days, to promote the health condition, are taking place from May 5th to May 7th (today – Friday, and throughout the coming weekend). The three main related organisations, being the Belgian Cardiology League, the Belgian Working Group on Heart Failure (known as the BWGHF) and the heart failure patient association “Mon Cœur entre Parenthèses”, are all raising the alarm. They are using a joint communiqué to do this.

    The associations and the League say that the budget cuts envisaged will prevent 230,000 heart failure patients from receiving treatment which complies with European good practice recommendations.

    The communiqué flags up that a national plan is essential to avoid heart failure becoming the prime cause of cardiovascular deaths in Belgium.

    The plan is also important for ensuring that the number of patients does not double by 2040.

    Currently heart failure is the main cause for patients, aged 65 and over, being admitted to hospital.

    The statistics show that on average one in every four patients is readmitted within a month of a previous hospital admission, and one in three dies within a year. Figures for 2014 from INAMI (which supports patients and professionals) show that these admissions and readmissions are excessively costly. The figure stated is 152 million euros, which equates to 2% to 3% of the overall health budget.

    The League and the associations lament the fact that “European recommendations on heart failure are not always applied in Belgium.” Yet this would avoid 50% of such costly readmissions.

    Dr Pierre Troisfontaines stresses, “Prevention, educating patients and using existing medical resources are, amongst others, means to reduce admissions for heart failure and therefore costs. However, we need to invest to reap the benefits as a nation.” He is the President of the Belgian Working Group on Heart Failure.

    The League mentions that, “More than 15,000 Belgians will learn this year that they are suffering from heart failure. This amounts to more than 40 people per day.”

    Whilst raising several other issues the League, in particular, makes the further key point, “Yet, only one in four Belgians knows and understands what heart failure is, and one in ten Belgians cannot name a risk factor.”

    During today and the weekend, 24 heart failure centres (15 French-speaking and nine Dutch-speaking) will organise awareness-raising sessions, conferences, discussions and workshops upon the use of defibrillators.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times