A CHARITY boss said there is a ‘shocking lack of awareness’ about heart failure among many people who are ‘at risk’.

Nick Hartshorne-Evans, of the Hapton-based Pumping Marvellous Foundation, is hopeful that better health outcomes can be achieved if doctors and the public pay more attention to the signs and symptoms of the disease.

According to statistics published by the British Heart Foundation, East Lancashire is one of the worst places in the country for ‘heart health’, with Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Burnley ranked fourth, sixth and ninth for the number of fatalities relating to heart disease.

Mr Hartshorne-Evans, who suffered heart failure in 2010 and went on to launch a support group and his charity, said more than one in five people over the age of 40 will develop the condition in their lifetime.

But he said a recent survey revealed almost 80 per cent of the British public ‘could not correctly define heart failure’, with many people mistaking the symptoms as the normal signs of aging.

He added: “It is unbelievable that with so many people living in the UK with heart failure, awareness of the condition is incredibly low. This is shocking considering heart failure is a major and growing public health problem.

“The only way we can start to tackle and manage the condition, is by raising awareness and coming together to better improve the lives of those living with it.”

He said heart failure is a complex clinical syndrome, characterised by the reduced ability of the heart to pump blood around the body, but the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research and the British Society of Heart Failure have shown that good clinical management results in significantly better outcomes for patients. However, patients must be identified quickly and have access to these services, Mr Hartshorne-Evans added.

The signs and symptoms of heart failure include difficulty breathing, swollen limbs due to build-up of fluid, severe fatigue, coughing / wheezing, nausea and weight gain due to fluid build-up.