Launching today, 50% actor-50% explorer, qualified Cosmonaut, national treasure, Brian Blessed, has filmed a heartfelt plea for support of a campaign created by the British Society for Heart Failure (BSH), the professional association of heart failure specialists in the UK.
Brian’s film, ‘Heart is everything’, recognises the campaign called ‘Freedom from Failure – the F Word’, supported by professional associations, charities and Royal Colleges, as vitally important.
It is designed to raise awareness of heart failure and to encourage people to check for and seek medical help early if they recognise the most common symptoms of heart failure:
Fighting for breath
Fluid build-up, often noticeable in the ankles
Blessed, no stranger to heart problems himself, with his well-documented use of expletives and superhuman enthusiasm for life appears throughout ‘Freedom from Failure – The F Word’ campaign videos, posters and in social media messaging.
In his own words: “Don’t let heart failure stop you from fulfilling your dreams”, Blessed wants to reassure people who recognise symptoms of heart failure in themselves and loved ones for the first time (and those already diagnosed) that you can live a life free from the burden of heart failure symptoms under specialist guidance and care.
Watch his impassioned campaign support video: “Heart is everything” here
The ‘Freedom from Failure – the F Word’ campaign, set to run over the next 5 years at least, draws attention to the challenge posed by heart failure as the endpoint for the majority of cardiovascular disease and reflects the increasing burden it is placing directly and indirectly on our health systems and community.
The risk of death from heart failure is higher than for some of the most common cancers therefore heart failure should be recognised, detected and treated with the same urgency as a disease as malignant as cancer.
According to the recent NICE Impact report, 80% of heart failure is diagnosed in hospital but 40% of people had symptoms that should have triggered an earlier assessment in primary care.
This suggests that many people who are living with undiagnosed heart failure are only seeking medical help as an emergency admission into hospital.
Fighting for breath/ breathlessness (on exertion or even at rest), a common reason for a doctor visit, is difficult to differentiate from other conditions which can add delays to correct diagnosis.
Laurence (67 years) in London was treated for bronchitis for 6 months and Andy (59 years) in Rutland for asthma prior to a diagnosis of heart failure.
Yet an easy, critical early diagnostic test which can be done by the General Practice team and is available in most of the UK, is the blood test for NT-pro BNP.
It can indicate if symptoms are likely to be due to heart failure (or not), how urgently further diagnostic tests are needed and helps set a patient onto the correct pathway with subsequent referral to the appropriate service or specialist.
BSH Chair, Dr Simon Williams, Consultant Cardiologist, Heart Failure Specialist commented: “Heart failure is arguably the biggest success story of modern day medicine, we have made extraordinary progress over the last 2 decades.
And whilst it remains a burdensome, often debilitating condition, with appropriate management it is possible for people to live well with heart failure.
Outcomes can be dramatically improved through earlier, faster diagnosis and expediting optimal treatment onto guideline recommended therapies. This is an important aim of the care we provide as Heart Failure Specialists.”