The Heart Failure Policy Toolkit – an online policy resource

The Heart Failure Policy Network is a multidisciplinary group of politicians from across Europe working with patients, health professionals and other stakeholders to lead significant policy changes that may improve the lives of people with heart failure. To find out more about us, please click here.

The Heart Failure Policy Toolkit is an innovative resource designed with the policymaker in mind. It aims to expose existing gaps in care and offer integrated and sustainable solutions.

The Toolkit is focused on 10 priority actions, organised around four key themes, as per below. Please click on any one of them to get started.

ic-pillarMake heart failure a national priority


National HF strategies


Public Awareness Campaigns


Data-driven Resource Planning

Until now, heart failure has been a forgotten condition. Yet 1 in 5 of us are at risk of developing heart failure over the course of our lives* and its cost to health care systems is considerable.

What’s more, heart failure is a debilitating condition which has a huge impact on the quality of life of those affected.* Many patients are treated inadequately, causing avoidable suffering and early death.

National leadership is key to raising awareness of the unmet needs surrounding heart failure. Every country should have a written strategic plan of reducing the burden of heart failure. Public awareness campaigns are needed to help everyone understand the symptoms of heart failure. Reliable data are also critical to identify what needs to be done to improve outcomes for patients, making best use of available resources.

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ic-pillarDiagnosis and prevention in those at risk


Professional training


Availability & reimbursement of diagnostics

Early detection is key in heart failure–putting patients on appropriate treatment as early as possible is vital to help minimise the risk of their symptoms getting worse, prolong their lives and improve their quality of life.*

Unfortunately, heart failure is often not on many healthcare professionals’ radars. As a result, they may not always recognise symptoms of heart failure, and patients only get diagnosed once severe damage to their heart has already taken place.* Equally, they may not be aware that heart failure can occur in younger as well as older people.

Doctors may also not think to try to prevent heart failure in their high-risk patients through appropriate lifestyle changes or medication.

Improving healthcare professionals’ understanding of heart failure is therefore urgently NEEDED. Appropriate diagnostic tools should also be available and reimbursed in all relevant settings of care to help avoid any delays in diagnosis.

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ic-pillarMulti-disciplinary, person-centred care


A standardised HF Pathway


A dedicated contact for follow up care


Person-centred care plans

Clinical guidelines for heart failure exist, however many people with heart failure still do not get the right treatment,* even in hospital.

Evidence has shown that patients who receive input from a cardiologist* are given evidence-based treatment to help stabilise their condition and are discharged from hospital with a clear discharge and follow up plan5.These patients have a lower risk of being re-admitted to hospital or of dying within one year.*

Heart failure is a long-term condition. A key care goal must therefore be to help patients engage in their care and maintain as good a quality of life as possible over the course of their condition. To do this, patients need a personalised care plan tailored to their individual needs.

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ic-pillarInvestment in tools and resources in primary care


Workforce planning


Investment in innovative tools

Inadequate follow up and long-term care in primary care is one of the key reasons why patients with heart failure often end up being admitted to hospital. GPs are usually the first point of contact for patients with heart failure. However, they often do not have the time or resources to monitor their patients, and nurses with specific training in heart failure are usually not available to fulfil this role.

Innovative tools that encourage self-care – for example patient self-monitoring tools – may also help keep heart failure patients out of hospital. However, in most countries these tools are often stuck in ‘pilot’ mode because of logistic or institutional barriers and are not implemented on a broad scale.

If we are to improve outcomes for people living with heart failure, we urgently need careful workforce planning and better use of tools that encourage self-management in primary care. Each healthcare setting needs to explore the feasibility of different approaches to suit their particular context.

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  • Lloyd-Jones DM, Larson MG, Leip EP, et al. Lifetime risk for developing congestive heart failure: the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation 2002;106(24):3068-72.

  • Jeon YH, Kraus SG, Jowsey T, et al. The experience of living with chronic heart failure: a narrative review of qualitative studies. BMC Health Serv Res 2010;10:77

  • Ponikowski P, Anker S, AlHabib K, et al. Heart failure: preventing disease and death worldwide. : European Society of Cardiology., 2014

  • British Society for Heart Failure. National Heart Failure Audit April 2012-March 2013. University College London.: National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research., 2013

  • Paul S. Hospital discharge education for patients with heart failure: what really works and what is the evidence? Critical care nurse 2008;28(2):66-82.