What does the lay public know about heart failure? Findings from the Heart Failure Awareness Day Initiative

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Aim & MethodsOne critical factor enhancing the implementation of successful diagnostic and therapeutic strategies into clinical practice is awareness among the lay public. We describe awareness in a contemporary, multinational convenience sample of subjects attending the Heart Failure Awareness (HFA) Day Initiatives in 2013.ResultsWe analysed 2,438 subjects (Germany 33%, Lithuania 42%, Romania 8%, Slovenia 17%) : 53% were female, 58% were aged >60 years, 11% (had) worked in the medical sector, 82% heard about HF before. Shortness of breath and tiredness were correctly identified as symptoms of heart failure in 71% and 61%, but only 52% recognized swelling of feet and legs as a clinical sign; 31% considered heart failure a normal symptom of old age, and only 38% realized the particularly poor prognosis after a heart failure related hospitalization. Subjects who had heard about heart failure before had a lower prevalence of common misbeliefs about HF.ConclusionIn subjects participating in the HFA Day initiative 2013, the level of awareness was unsatisfactory, and important misconceptions remain. The educational and awareness activities for both the population at large and also for decision makers should be broadened and intensified.

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