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A meeting of delegates, led by people who live with heart failure, gathered from the west and east of the country to discuss the issues facing the estimated 90,000 people in Ireland living with heart failure.

The first Heart Failure Patient Alliance (HFPA) national meeting saw people with heart failure raise the everyday issues they face in their localities.

Key challenges discussed at the roundtable discussion included; lack of equality to services across the country, long waiting times, and lack of understanding or awareness of heart failure among the general public.

Due to Ireland’s ageing population, heart failure is set to increase dramatically, which will lead to a growth of hospitalisations from heart failure by over 50 per cent over the next 25 years.

Heart failure is a debilitating, life-threatening condition, however, with access to timely diagnosis, appropriate medical management and follow-up services, a patient’s prognosis can be significantly improved.

Dr Patricia Campbell, Consultant Cardiologist, The Heartbeat Trust said: “The patient delegates who spoke at today’s meeting are the true voice and face of the struggle the estimated 90,000 people living with heart failure face every day.

“The limited services available to those in certain pockets of the country are not comparable to those available in bigger cities and it is important that those people can voice their concerns”.

The main actions agreed by the group at the meeting included establishing a heart failure steering group, setting up a heart failure patient alliance group in each province, and organising a second HFPA national meeting, to take place in December 2017.

The heart failure steering group will be made up of patients, doctors, nurses and allied health professionals with representation included from Northern Ireland and Munster to ensure an all-Ireland approach.

Another challenge that was discussed at the meeting was the lack of awareness of heart failure and its symptoms.

In a bid to overcome this obstacle, Irish Heart, in collaboration with Croí and Heartbeat Trust, will launch a national heart failure awareness campaign in 2018.

The HFPA is made up of Croí, the Heartbeat Trust, Irish Heart and supported by Novartis, and aims to build a patient forum to address the dearth of heart failure resources nationwide.