Project: Heart failure and COVID‑19

Heart failure and COVID‑19
With heart failure a high-risk pre-existing condition and heart damage a consequence of COVID-19, what does the pandemic mean for heart failure care?

What is known about heart failure and COVID-19?

People with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, have an increased risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. There is also evidence that COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart in a small number of otherwise healthy people who do not have any prior cardiovascular risk factors.

People living with heart failure have been faced with difficult choices during the pandemic. The risk of COVID-19 infection must be balanced against the known imperatives to prevent irreversible harm if heart failure is not managed correctly. The restrictions of heart failure services to adhere to social distancing rules or divert resources to intensive care may have serious consequences.

The pandemic’s impact on heart failure care may continue long after the virus itself has been contained. Some experts have warned that the number of people living with heart failure may grow as a result of cardiac damage in those who have survived COVID-19 infection. There is also likely to be an increased demand for services from people with heart failure who have experienced delays, postponements or cancellations of appointments during the pandemic.

The pandemic has underscored existing weaknesses in our healthcare systems and the cost of years of inertia in heart failure care. It has significantly increased pressure on healthcare professionals, many of whom will need structured psychological support as a result. Without immediate and decisive policy action, the pandemic could have catastrophic repercussions for heart failure care.

In December 2020, with much of Europe in the grips of a second wave of the pandemic, the HFPN published a report exploring the evolving evidence around the relationship between COVID-19 and heart failure.

Click the button below to download the report.

Heart failure and COVID-19

What does the report recommend?

Based on current evidence, the report identifies six areas that must be addressed as a matter of urgency:

  • Reinstating heart failure specialist teams
  • Prioritising timely diagnosis of heart failure
  • Supporting healthcare professionals to avoid burnout
  • Maximising the benefits of remote care models
  • Recognising the fundamental role of patient organisations in supporting people with heart failure, healthcare systems and governments
  • Driving forward research efforts on heart failure and COVID-19

The evidence base on COVID-19 is in its infancy and continues to evolve. This report is based on desk research conducted in September–November 2020; inevitably, we expect new information to emerge in the coming months. This report has been published with the intention to stimulate debate and action among policymakers, clinicians and patient groups across Europe. We will continue to monitor the research landscape and would welcome feedback from all stakeholders on their experiences of the impact of the pandemic on heart failure.

Project funding

This report was developed with financial support from Vifor Pharma.
The Heart Failure Policy Network is an independent, multidisciplinary platform made possible with financial support from AstraZeneca and Roche Diagnostics. The content produced by the Network is not biased toward any specific treatment or therapy. All outputs are guided and endorsed by the Network’s members. All members provide their time for free. The Network is hosted by The Health Policy Partnership .