It is a pathology which should increase by 25% every four years: heart failure today affects 1.5 million French people. A number which is even underestimated, because the patients are slow to be diagnosed. Each year, this disease kills 70,000 people. It mainly affects people aged 60 and over, but its incidence nevertheless increases before the age of 55, as in other European countries, due to lifestyle habits that are harmful to health, such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle or even a poor diet.
This pathology is therefore far from trivial and this is the reason why Health Insurance will launch a major awareness campaign next week, in particular with commercials and videos broadcast to pharmacists and certain doctors.
Shortness of breath, fatigue, weight gain and swelling
If heart failure is taken care of early enough, the worst can be avoided because there are warning signs that should alert us. These are signs that may seem trivial but that a person can feel several weeks before a heart attack, for example. Stéphanie Schramm is the doctor in charge of chronic diseases at Health Insurance and details the symptoms of heart failure: “It is often confused with the signs of aging”, she explains.
To recognize heart failure, you have to be attentive to four different signs: “It’s shortness of breath, shortness of breath. It’s difficulty sleeping and significant weight gain,” she explains. “And then swelling in the feet, in the hands, it can be unusual fatigue.”
If several of these signs are felt, the patient must quickly consult a doctor to start treatment. In addition to medication, lifestyle is just as important, says Stéphanie Schramm: “Doing physical exercise can be walking, like going shopping. And then, not eating too salty food. Because that is a factor that promotes edema and heart dysfunction.” Thanks to the identification of symptoms and rapid treatment, lifelong sequelae are avoided. Every year in France, 200,000 people are hospitalized because of heart failure.