“HF is the biggest threat to our health care systems
- yet very few people know about it.”

Dr Jose Ramon Juanatey, President of the Spanish Society of Cardiology

Why focus on HF?

1 in 5 people are at risk of developing HF, yet it is a largely neglected condition within chronic disease, and carries a significant cost for our healthcare systems and society in general. Find out more about HF » Find out why HF should be a policy priority » Watch HF patient testimonials »

Our Call to Action on HF

10 things for policymakers to focus on that can lead to real change. Full details of our call to action »

What's in the toolkit?

The toolkit is an innovative resource designed with the policymaker in mind. It is focused on 10 priority actions, and aims to expose existing gaps in care and offer integrated and sustainable solutions. Find out more »

Who we are

The Heart Failure Policy Network is a unique working group of parliamentarians from across Europe, partnering with patients, professionals and other stakeholders. Members have volunteered their time to lead policy changes in heart failure and to help improve the lives of people living with heart failure. Find out more »

What is heart failure?

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a serious chronic condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood to support the needs of other organs in the body.

What causes heart failure? The most common causes of heart failure in Europe include coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction (heart attack), congenital heart defects or damaged heart valves.

What are the symptoms of heart failure? Red flag symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue and swollen limbs. Signs of heart failure may also be associated with an underlying cardiac disorder.

How does heart failure manifest itself? Patients may have symptoms of heart failure for many years before receiving a proper diagnosis. Most often, heart failure is diagnosed when patients have an acute episode, due to worsening of their symptoms, and requiring emergency

Discover more about heart failure »

“Public awareness is very poor for heart failure. People don’t really understand what it is. Some patients don’t even understand what it is. When I received my diagnosis, I’m not sure that I understood what heart failure was. It took a long time to get the information I was looking for.”

Sam, a woman living with heart failure


Heart failure is a chronic condition characterised by acute episodes, which can lead to admission to hospital, putting the patient at great risk of death and re-hospitalisation.

Why focus on heart failure?

Of all conditions, why focus on heart failure?

Significant, and growing, costs

HF carries a significant cost for our health care systems and society in general.

  • HF affects 1 in 5 of us in our lifetime
  • At present, 15 million people are living with heart failure in Europe.
  • HF is the leading cause of hospitalisation in people over the age of 65.
  • HF accounts for 5% of all acute hospital admissions in Europe.
  • Without prevention, the number of HF cases is expected to triple by 2030.
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Considerable human suffering

Jayne's story
Jean's story

Many people with HF report ‘living in the shadow of fear’ – i.e. that life is deeply and constantly affected by the emotional strain of HF.

  • Heart failure has a worse prognosis than many of the most common forms of cancer.
  • Symptoms of HF such as pain, severe breathlessness, extreme fatigue and sleep disturbance, can significantly affect patients’ mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Being unable to work due to HF can lead to social exclusion and depression.
  • There are huge emotional, physical and financial costs to caregivers looking after a family member with HF.
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A forgotten condition within chronic disease

  • Most people, and even some doctors, do not know what the causes and symptoms of HF are.
  • HF is a complex condition. Diagnosis is not straightforward - symptoms of HF vary considerably among patients, and diagnosis may not be immediately obvious or HF may present with co-morbidities that ‘mask’ HF.
  • The term ‘failure’ may lead to the misconception that HF is ‘hopeless’ – and an inevitable part of ageing.
  • We don’t collect accurate data on the true burden of disease, meaning HF has slipped under the radar for decades.
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What's in the HF Policy Toolkit?

What's in the HF Policy Toolkit?

Solutions are available – but we are not using them

“We have one opportunity to get this right.
If we don’t, a tsunami of costs will hit us”
Nick Hartshorne-Evans, CEO of The Pumping Marvellous Foundation and President, iHHUB

To meet this challenge, the HF Policy Network, a unique group of politicians working with patients and cardiologists from across Europe, developed the HF Policy Toolkit.

The Toolkit aims to support decision-makers to identify priorities for action and implement policy changes that will help improve the lives of people with HF across Europe.

Members have volunteered their time to build the HF Policy Toolkit and other key materials, and to work together to help improve the lives of people living with heart failure.

What's in the toolkit?

What's in the HF Policy Toolkit?

A ten point call to action, covering:

  • Making HF a national priority
  • Timely diagnosis and prevention in those at risk
  • Multi-disciplinary, person-centred care
  • Invest in tools and resources in primary care

To read the full Call to Action, click here

Across the toolkit, you will find: