A shocking new report has highlighted the seriousness of heart failure in Australia, shining a light on the riskiest locations across the nation where people are most likely to be impacted by the condition. ‘Peak Winter! A Report on the Seasonal Impact of Heart Failure in Australia’ by Novartis Australia also shows that winter is the riskiest time of year for heart failure, with a 32 per cent spike in hospital admissions during the cooler months.
While most people know what a stroke or heart attack is, chances are they’re not as familiar with heart failure – where the heart muscle isn’t strong enough to pump enough blood around the body. The condition can cause fluid to build up around the body and results in less oxygen reaching the muscles and brain.
It’s been associated with an array of symptoms including breathlessness, feeling exhausted, swollen feet or ankles, a loss of appetite and even struggling to sleep when lying flat – but these symptoms can also be the result of other health problems. There have been 21,400 admissions to Australian hospitals this winter due to the most common type of heart failure, with a total of 73,500 hospitalisations each year. The cooler weather can cause the blood vessels to narrow, which in turn can put pressure on the heart.
The report shows that seasonal vulnerability during winter, spring and autumn sees an additional 8,800 hospital admissions for heart failure annually and that if these were prevented, the Australian healthcare system would save more than $200 million and less lives would be lost. At present, heart failure hospital admissions cost the healthcare system $334 in winter alone, with calls for health authorities to plan for an influx of heart failure patients in the winter months and to increase efforts to winter-proof those most at risk of heart failure.
New South Wales is the riskiest state for heart failure hospital admissions, with the report showing a total of 24,000 admissions and 7,077 for winter alone. Victoria wasn’t far behind with 18,900 total admissions and 5,479 winter hospital admissions, while Queensland’s hospitalisations sit at 13,920 in total and 4,066 for winter.
Western Australia’s total hospital admissions reached 7,000 and their winter admissions increased by 490 to 2,019, while South Australia’s total was 6,100 and 1,756 for winter. Tasmania’s heart failure admissions sat at 1,830 in total and 538 for winter, while the ACT boasted the lowest number of total hospital admissions with 1,420 and 411 for winter admissions.
“Colder weather can increase blood pressure, which makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body,” report co-author Louise Burrell said in a statement.
“Now is the time to be alert to any deterioration in heart health.”
In addition to the symptoms above, heart failure can also cause weight gain, an irregular heartbeat, persistent coughing and wheezing, increased urination at night chest pain and difficultly concentrating. It’s always important to discuss any symptoms with a GP or health professional so the best advice and treatment can be given.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.