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Lack of symptoms awareness delays heart failure diagnosis

14 Mar 2017
New heart failure drug shows promise

Patients with heart failure tend to normalise the symptoms they experience, which results in delayed presentation for primary care, a new study shows.

A total of 16 patients (median age 78.5 years; 11 men) who were recently diagnosed with heart failure were included in the study. Each participant was subjected to semi-structured interviews until there were no more new themes of answers.

Interviews involved asking the participants to narrate their experiences from the first they noticed the manifestation of symptoms up to the point of diagnosis. The framework method was used to analyse the interviews.

Only one interview was conducted over the phone; the rest were conducted personally at the participants’ homes. The average duration of the interviews was 42 minutes.

Shortness of breath was the most common symptom and was often thought of as a normal part of ageing. On the other hand, some participants also reported attributing their breathlessness to other comorbidities.

Other symptoms, like lethargy and swollen ankles, were also normalised as being rooted in other causes like being too busy or being outside their usual environments. Participants thus tended to carry on normally despite these symptoms.

Most of the initial symptoms progressed gradually for months. Participants sought professional help if the symptoms interfered with daily activities or if there were sudden events that needed immediate intervention.

Finally, the degree to which participants understood heart failure was variable. Diagnosis resulted in initial anxiety. Over time, patients learned to accept their diagnoses, researchers said.

The study thus shows that better public understanding of heart failure and its symptoms and manifestations may improve early disease recognition.

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Most Read Articles
Jairia Dela Cruz, 4 days ago
Even small risk reductions achieved with improved air quality afford health benefits similar to that gained with smoking and systolic hypertension control, according to a study in an urban China population.
4 days ago
The degree of left atrial (LA) remodeling predicts atrial tachycardia (AT) recurrence rather than atrial fibrillation (AF) recurrence following catheter ablation of AF, a recent study has shown.
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Both haemorrhagic and ischaemic stroke patients benefit similarly from a conventional therapy combined with robotic-assisted gait training (RAGT) intervention regimen, a new study shows.
Tristan Manalac, 3 days ago
Consumption of peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to recent large prospective cohort studies.