Heart failure: 49% of seniors still believe (wrongly) that it is curable

In France, theheart failure affects 1.5 million people and could grow by 25% every four years. It now concerns 10% of people over 70, but its incidence tends to also increase among those under 55, due to bad lifestyle habits such as smoking, poor diet or sedentary lifestyle. However, these figures may well be underestimated, due to a delay in diagnosis in many patients. The reason ? Ignorance of the main symptoms of the disease.

To alert the general public, Health Insurance is relaunching, from March 13, its national awareness campaign entitled “What if your heart was trying to tell you something?“. Initially launched in September 2022, this campaign had three objectives: to raise awareness of symptoms, to improve and anticipate care and to promote diagnosis. “Thanks to the first wave of the campaign, overall knowledge of heart failure is on the rise, with 13% of seniors spontaneously citing it as one of the heart diseases they know (+3% compared to June 2022)indicates a communicated of health insurance.

The campaign wanted to alert on the four main signs of the disease summarized in the acronym EPOF (shortness of breath, weight gain, edema and Fatigue), supposed to refer them to a doctor in case of doubt. A message that was clearly heard by the main people concerned: almost 9 out of 10 seniors now identify fatigue as a symptom (88%, +6 points) as well as unusual shortness of breath (87%, +4 points). 7 out of 10 seniors cite edema (70%, +8 points) and 37% of seniors mention rapid weight gain (+11 points). 9 out of 10 seniors also said the campaign prompted them to see their doctor if symptoms developed.

And in the event of symptoms, even slight ones, it is necessary to know how to insist with his general practitioner on the unusual nature of the symptoms felt, because if they are often minimal at the beginning, they settle gradually and can be trivialized. These symptoms can sometimes be ignored in so-called “young” patients, even though heart failure does not only concern the oldest people.

Heart failure is a serious disease

When the campaign was launched, the specialists regretted that too many believed that heart failure was not a serious pathology. “When a person announces their cancer, the emotion is immediate. It’s not the same when someone announces they have heart failure.”then regretted Pr Christophe Leclercq, president of the French Society of Cardiology, head of the cardiology and vascular diseases department.

40% of respondents continue to know heart failure only by name and 49% continue to believe it is curable when in fact it is incurable and requires lifelong treatment. Some continue to minimize its impact on activities of daily living, but this figure has been falling since June 2022. They nevertheless remain well aware that heart failure can lead to hospitalizations (83%) and death (87%).

If the picture looks black, the patient’s quality of life can nevertheless be improved if the management is good. And on a daily basis, some improvements such as a change in diet (low in salt) or the practice of physical exercise can make a difference, aspects addressed in this new part of the campaign.

Source :

  • Heart failure: knowing how to recognize the warning signs, Assurance Maladie, March 10, 2023

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