Heart failure – a cardiovascular disease with the worst prognosis

World Heart Day marked with a large 3D animation of the anatomical heart on the building of the Old Palace

Healthy lifestyle, early diagnosis and adequate treatment are key to keeping your heart healthy.

Although 60 million people worldwide suffer from heart failure, this disease is recognized at an early stage in only 3% of patients. It takes too long to diagnose the heart failure, which makes heart failure the number one cause of hospitalization of patients over the age of 65, “it was said at the conference held on the occasion of World Heart Day, which was marked by the 3D animation of a large anatomical heart on the building of the Old Palace.

World Heart Day traditionally reminds citizens of the importance of regular check-ups and healthy lifestyle, but this year the focus was on the importance of early diagnosis and the availability of innovative therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular disease with the worst prognosis – heart failure.

Statistics have shown that one in five people over the age of 40 will develop heart failure in their lifetimes. Given that patients and doctors most often attribute symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, suffocation, dizziness and rapid heartbeat, to age, lung disease and other health conditions, it is not surprising that half of the patient deaths occur within five years from diagnosis

Dr Zoran Radojičić, the mayor of Belgrade, reminded the citizens that healthy lifestyle, prevention and early treatment are of great importance for reducing the number of patients. “Timely recognition of problems, regular medical check-ups, along with a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and regular physical activity are key to keeping your heart healthy”, said the mayor.

Dr Arsen Ristić, Head of the Department of Heart Failure and Assistant Director at the Clinic for Cardiology of the Clinical Centre of Serbia, warned that heart failure is a dangerous and progressive disease that requires lifelong treatment. “However, during the last few years, several new drugs, medical interventions and surgical procedures have significantly improved the prognosis of patients with heart failure and reduced the need for hospitalization. It would be very useful for these drugs to be widely available to our patients because they would not only have fewer symptoms and hospital treatment would be less frequent, but their working ability would be preserved to a much greater extent and costs would be reduced in the long run; but first of all, a significant number of our patients would live longer “, said Dr Ristić and added that for successful treatment it is necessary to recognize the disease as early as possible and introduce the most effective therapies immediately after diagnosis.

On the other hand, Academician Dr Petar Seferović, President of the European Heart Failure Association, stated that inadequate treatment of heart failure increases overall healthcare costs due to more frequent hospitalizations, complex surgeries, rehabilitation, and also patients with advanced heart failure need an artificial heart pump (LVAD) or heart transplants – which additionally burdens the healthcare system.

“Therefore, for the improvement of the worrying statistics and successful treatment of heart failure, it is of great importance to constantly raise public awareness about heart failure. Also, early diagnosis, availability of modern therapy for all, and a healthy lifestyle are crucial for the health of every Serbian citizen,” stated Academician Seferović.

At the end of the conference, Dr Snežana Plavšić, an epidemiologist at the Institute of Public Health “Milan Jovanović Batut” pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic focused public attention on epidemiological measures, prevention and treatment of this new viral infection, but that cardiovascular diseases remain an ongoing pandemic, and every year in Serbia about 52,000 inhabitants die of these diseases. “Many of these patients could live longer with mitigation of cardiovascular risk and better treatment of heart failure”, concluded Dr Plavšić.

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