HeartLife Foundation Puts Heart Failure at the Centre of Heart Month with Launch of New Tools to Support Canadians

First and only heart failure Charter addresses importance of establishing a national standard of care for Canadian patients and their caregivers

VANCOUVER, BC, February 1, 2020 – Today, HeartLife Foundation (HLF), Canada’s first – and only – national patient-led Heart Failure (HF) organization, is calling attention to the realities of living with HF by releasing the first-of-its-kind Canadian Heart Failure Patient & Caregiver Charter. Coinciding with February’s Heart Month, the Charter outlines a set of rights and responsibilities to support the creation and implementation of a much-needed national standard of care for Canadians living with HF and their caregivers.

HF is a common, chronic heart disease on the rise in Canada, with more than 600,000 Canadians living with HF. Each year, 92,900 Canadians are newly diagnosed – a diagnosis that changes a person’s life forever. People living with HF experience an emotional and physical burden with the disease. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and swelling of the ankles and feet. People living with HF experience changes to their lifestyle, may be unable to do all the things they used to and may need to rely more on others. Patients and their caregivers are overwhelmed with medical information, medications, appointments, and in some cases device therapy. It is important to note, heart failure does not have a cure. New feelings of fear, uncertainty and loneliness are common, but there is hope. By diagnosing and treating the potentially debilitating effects of HF at its early stages, people can live longer, fuller and more active lives.

When it comes to HF, diagnosis, access to care, medical therapies and support services varies widely from one region to the next. That’s why HLF has been working to bring support to Canadians living with HF through awareness with patients, families, and caregivers and tools like the Charter.

“We’re thrilled to launch the Charter. It’s more important than ever to ensure a national standard of high-quality care for all Canadians living with heart failure,” said Marc Bains, Co-Founder, VP, HLF and heart transplant recipient who was diagnosed at age 23. “The Charter is a step forward to ensuring the patient voice is heard, and that all Canadians have access to consistent high-quality care that can improve their quality of life.”

In the era of a pandemic, people living with HF are highly vulnerable and at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing further complications with their disease. The effects of the pandemic on healthcare resources means many patients are waiting longer for care, and the longer they wait, the higher the chances of further, irreversible damage to the heart.

“As someone living with heart failure, I know first-hand the impact of the diagnosis and how it changes your life. That’s why it’s our goal at HLF to provide hope by improving health outcomes and the lives of Canadians with heart failure no matter where they live,” said Bains. “It’s crucial to not leave heart failure patients and their caregivers behind. Together, we can establish better access to the resources, support and standardized care needed to live the quality of life we deserve during the pandemic and beyond. HeartLife’s vision is to create a better everyday life for people living with HF. It’s about life, not failure.”

The Charter intends to improve the understanding of what HF and HF care is, facilitate discussions with stakeholders to drive change, establish a national standard of care consistent across Canada and develop real-world solutions for patients. To create the Charter, HLF worked with patients and family caregivers from across Canada to gain insight into the challenges facing Canadians directly affected by the disease.

Alongside the Charter, through the support of HF patients, caregivers and health care practitioners, HLF is also launching the HF Patient Journey Map. The tool captures real patient experiences: life before diagnosis, the diagnosis and living with HF. It illustrates the many unique stories to help visualize the impact of the disease and show how with the right supports, patients can live well with HF.

HLF is encouraging Canadians to learn more by accessing the Charter and Patient Journey Map.

Take A Beat – What is Heart Failure?

HF is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood through the body to meet its needs. The heart is unable to fill with enough blood, or its pumping action isn’t strong enough, or both.

Survival is improved through education, awareness, and access to specialist health care and therapy. A timely and accurate HF diagnosis is essential in receiving treatment, improving quality of life and reducing hospitalizations.

About HeartLife Foundation

HeartLife Foundation is Canada’s first – and only – national patient-led Heart Failure organization. We are a Federal Charity aimed at raising public awareness of Heart Failure, engaging patients, families, and caregivers to provide education and support, facilitate access to the latest research, innovations, and treatments, and advocate better care for all.

HLF is available for “heart-to-heart” media interviews.

Media Contact

For further information: Sarah Harper, Proof Strategies, 416-435-7921, sharper@getproof.com

References

Report from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System: Heart Disease in Canada, 2018. Public Health Agency of Canada; 2018. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/report-heart-disease-Canada-2018.html (accessed 2020 Apr. 18).

Report from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System: Heart Disease in Canada, 2018. Public Health Agency of Canada; 2018. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/report-heart-disease-Canada-2018.html (accessed 2020 Apr. 18).

Coronavirus, heart disease and stroke, 2021. Heart and Stroke Foundation. Available at: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/articles/coronavirus-heart-disease-and-stroke

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Have your voice heard

If you are a patient, family member or friend of someone with lived experience of heart failure or if you are a practitioner, allied health professional, not-for-profit or corporate partner, or simply a concerned citizen – Become a member – it’s free.

Our Support Group

For patients and carers

Are you a patient with lived experience of heart failure? Are you a family carer and need support? Request access to our closed Facebook support group.

Contact us

HLF is available for “heart-to-heart” support for patients and family carers, discussions with potential partners, and for media interviews.

Media Inquiries

Sarah Harper
Proof Strategies
sharper@getproof.com

General Inquiries

info@heartlife.ca

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