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Here, David Sculthorpe, CEO of Canadian patient advocacy group, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, writes about heart failure in Canada and how it impacts so many.

Heart failure is a growing – but largely silent – epidemic in Canada, which is why it was the focus of this year’s Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Report on the Health of Canadians.3 I hope this report will wake up more Canadians, policy makers and healthcare providers to the urgency of this chronic condition.

As we learned in a poll conducted for the report, almost half of Canadians were seen to have either been diagnosed with heart failure themselves or have a family member or close friend with the condition.3 Think about that – half of us have direct experience with heart failure!

Yet, our poll also showed that many Canadians understand little about heart failure and its impact:3

  • Almost one in five believe that heart failure is a normal part of aging
  • Almost half mistakenly think it can be cured

Let me be clear, heart failure is not a normal part of aging. Heart failure is a chronic condition that develops after the heart has been damaged by a heart attack, high blood pressure or lifestyle factors.4 Eventually it becomes unable to pump blood as well as it should leading to heart failure.4

There is no cure for heart failure but lifestyle changes and medications can help many people to manage their symptoms.4

With improved diagnostics and better medical management, heart failure patients are living longer – but not without challenges. The images below show the reality of heart failure in Canada to patients, their families and the healthcare system.1,2,3,4

heart failure

I urge you to read our report for a critical look at the burden of heart failure on Canadians’ health and our healthcare system.

In the report, you’ll meet people whose lives have been changed by heart failure and hear from some of the 69 top heart failure experts surveyed. We need to do everything we can to beat this debilitating condition.

This article has been adapted and formatted by Novartis for Keep It Pumping. The original article was provided by the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada. The adaptation of the article was funded by Novartis Pharma AG.

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1) Blais C, et al. Assessing the Burden of Hospitalized and Community-Care Heart Failure in Canada. Canadian Journal of Cardiology. 2014;30:352-358.
2) Ross H, et al. Treating the right patient at the right time: Access to heart failure care. Canadian Journal of Cardiology. 2006;22:749-754.
3) The Heart and Stroke Foundation. 2016 Report On the Health of Canadians. Available here: Last accessed January 2020.
4) Ponikowski P, et al. 2016 ESC Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure. European Heart Journal. 2016;37:2129-2200. 

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