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Heart failure patients need better support to stay well

A new study into the health of people with chronic heart failure suggests more needs to be done to support them to stay well.

The research which surveyed more than 300 heart failure patients has shown that many struggle to manage exercise, diet, and health care appointments – adding to their burden or workload on top of the effects of the condition itself.

Burden of treatment is a term used to describe the amount of work a patient experiences just staying well and managing their health condition. That can include taking medications, booking health appointments, and changing their lifestyle. It also includes the people and places they can access to help them with that work.

The team behind this work included Rosalynn Austin, Professor Lisette Schoonhoven, Dr Vasiliki Koutra, Professor Alison Richardson, Professor Paul Kalra and Professor Carl May. They found that patients with heart failure reported they faced additional mental and physical pressures just keeping up with their treatment and care.

Specialist Cardiology Research Nurse Rosalynn Austin works for Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust but is also carrying out research at University of Southampton as part of the research programme of NIHR ARC Wessex.

Rosalynn’s work on this area of heart failure care earned her recognition from the British Society for Heart Failure, the first nurse to do so.

“Patients with chronic heart failure often find themselves juggling hospital appointments and medication – alongside trying to eat healthily and exercise. This research shows that the burden of managing all this can be significant and ultimately effects their wellbeing.

The team behind this work has concluded that clinicians treating patients with chronic heart failure should tailor their advice to tackle the most troubling symptoms of the illness, lessen the workload of treatment, so that patients can live well with the condition.”

Chronic Heart Failure is a condition that means that the heart is unable to pump blood around the body properly. It usually occurs because the heart has become too weak or stiff.

This research is part of Rosalynn’s PhD which was supervised by researchers from the University of Southampton (Professor Alison Richardson, Dr Vasiliki Koutra, and Rosalynn Austin), University Medical Center Utrecht (Professor Lisette Schoonhoven), Department of Cardiology at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust and Universities of Portsmouth and Glasgow (Professor Paul Kalra) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London (Professor Carl May).

NIHR ARC Wessex is an organisation that conducts research in collaboration with health care providers and universities across Wessex, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

Rosalynn’s findings are published here - SYMptoms in chronic heart failure imPACT on burden of treatment (SYMPACT): a cross-sectional survey


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