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Ten things you need to learn about heart failure

By Kenneth Dickstein

A diagnosis of heart failure can be overwhelming. Here are ten things you can learn to cope with this condition.

(1) Learn how the heart and heart failure works. This series of informative animations can take you on a journey through heart failure and its management.

(2) Learn to navigate an enormous amount of information. You’ll receive advice from cardiologists, nurses, and GPs — not to mention family, friends, and everyone who wants to help.

(3) Learn about the causes, symptoms, and developmentof heart failure.

(4) Learn the warning signs of heart failure, their level of severity, and who to consult and when.

(5) Learn to adjust your lifestyle to get the most out of life when you have heart failure. This condition will have an impact on every aspect of your life including travel, work, and relationships.

(6) Learn to work with your doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. They help patients understand what is wrong: take patients through their medicines, introduce them to the people they need to work with, and describe heart failure clinics. Ask for tools, such as medicine charts or a symptoms and events diary, to help you stay oragnized.

(7) Learn your treatment options and what to ask your doctor. You’ll feel more reassured.

(8) Learn how this will affect your caretakers, who face many problems including depression. They need as much support as you.

(9) Learn how other patients overcome their difficulties. You can gain knowledge from their experiences.

(10) Learn to network with other people who have heart failure. Meeting fellow sufferers can help you feel less alone and more able to cope.

Professor Kenneth Dickstein is the creator and full-time enthusiast of the patient centred website Heart Failure Matters! Designed to meet a global educational need by helping patients understand their complex medical condition, it is available in in English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Russian (with the translation to Arabic happening this year).

The European Journal of Heart Failure, edited by Professor Dirk van Veldhuisen, is the International Journal of the European Society of Cardiology dedicated to the advancement of knowledge in the field of heart failure.

Oxford University Press is supporting Heart Failure Awareness Day with resources from across the press. Read our previous blog posts: “The five big lifestyle changes for heart health” ; “Why do we have a Heart Failure Awareness Day?” ; “Seven things you never knew about heart failure” ; and “More malignant than cancer?”

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Image credit: Male anatomy of human organs in x-ray view. Image by janulla, iStockphoto.

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