BLACK Country health and care staff are raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure as part of this year’s Heart Failure Awareness (HFA) Week.

Taking place until Sunday May 5, the week aims to raise awareness of heart failure to help people understand if they are among those at risk.

This year’s theme is Detect the undetected, focusing on individuals who remain undiagnosed and emphasising the significance of early intervention, which can have a profound impact on improving lives and outcomes.

Heart failure means the heart is unable to pump blood around the body as required. It usually happens because the heart has become too weak or stiff. It is a long-term condition that tends to get gradually worse over time.

The main symptoms of heart failure include:

• breathlessness after activity or at rest

• feeling tired most of the time and finding exercising exhausting

• feeling lightheaded or fainting

• swollen ankles and legs

Some people also experience other symptoms such as a persistent cough, a fast heart rate and dizziness. Symptoms can develop quickly or gradually over weeks or months.

During HFA week, heart failure specialists in Dudley will be visiting communities to provide information about the signs and symptoms of heart failure in partnership with heart failure charity Pumping Marvellous Foundation. They will be in Dudley Market Place, High Street, Dudley, from 9am to 2pm on Friday May 3.

Dr Matt Banks, consultant interventional cardiologist at The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Heart failure does not mean your heart has stopped working, but you may need support to help it to work better and to manage your symptoms.

“The earlier people present with symptoms, the faster they can get access to heart failure specialist care and treatment. Undiagnosed heart failure can lead to serious health consequences, which is why it’s important for people to understand the symptoms and causes of heart failure.

“The events we have coming up will help get people thinking about whether they could be among those who are undiagnosed and take steps so they can look after their future.”

Dr Ananta Dave, chief medical officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, added: “Heart failure is a serious long-term condition that will usually continue to get slowly worse over time.

“It’s vital that we raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of heart failure, to make sure people get any treatment they need and are offered support to help them live well.”

Dr Dave urged anyone who experiences persistent or gradually worsening symptoms of heart failure, to see their GP as soon as possible.

GPs should be able to offer checks and a blood test to see how well the heart is working and if a blood test shows heart failure the patient should be referred to a specialist heart failure team and/or offered further tests.