Shocking report on women's heart health

The new date showed that women in Ireland are waiting nearly twice as long as men to receive a heart failure diagnosis.
Shocking report on women's heart health

The new date showed that women in Ireland are waiting nearly twice as long as men to receive a heart failure diagnosis.

WOMEN on average have to wait five weeks to receive a formal diagnosis of heart failure, compared to men who have to wait three weeks.

That was the shocking finding published in a new report by the Irish Heart Foundation and Roche Diagnostics.

The new date showed that women in Ireland are waiting nearly twice as long as men to receive a heart failure diagnosis.

The report, State of the Heart: Examining the current state of heart failure diagnosis and care in Ireland, analyses data from a first of its kind survey.

It sheds light on the realities on patient experiences of being diagnosed with heart failure and provides recommendations to improve care for patients to help an early and accurate diagnosis.

Heart failure is estimated to affect around 2% of the Irish population with approximately 90,000 people in Ireland suffering from heart failure.

Key findings of the report include:

Women on average have to wait five weeks to receive a formal diagnosis of heart failure, compared to men who have to wait three weeks.

Late diagnosis of heart failure has physical, emotional and financial impacts with 72% of patients saying their lives would have been better if they had received their diagnosis earlier.

Mental health is the most identified negative impact of a delayed diagnosis, with 70% saying their emotional wellbeing or mental health was affected.

Heart failure has a big impact on peoples’ lives, with 58% of patients saying their delayed diagnosis had impacted their ability to work, resulting in financial losses.

The report identifies a significant gender disparity between the experiences of male and female patients, with female patients waiting longer to be diagnosed with heart failure than men.

Women are also more likely to delay seeking help from health professionals after first developing symptoms, with females making appointments at four weeks - almost twice as long as males.

Heart failure experts often warn that a key challenge in diagnosing heart failure is that many people are not aware of the symptoms. Only 7% of the Irish population can correctly identify three symptoms of heart failure.

Furthermore, common heart failure symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and swollen ankles and legs, are not unique to the condition, making it difficult for patients and healthcare professionals to recognise the early signs of heart failure.

The report also exposes the personal toll of a late heart failure diagnosis, finding that 72% of patients said that their lives would have been better if they had received their diagnosis earlier.

Pauline O’Shea, who was 38 when she was diagnosed, comments on the need for increased education of heart failure symptoms: “Learn the signs and if you start to experience even some of these, go to your doctor and ask for a BNP test.”

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