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The World Heart Federation is proud to join the newly launched Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging (the Alliance), an initiative by Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) that recognizes that while heart failure does increase in prevalence with age, it is not a normal part of aging. More than 30 organizations, including advocacy groups, global businesses, and care providers, have united to better quantify the full scope and scale of heart failure risk as the global population over 60 will reach 2 billion by mid-century.
The creation of the Alliance follows 18 months of roundtables, research, and analysis from global leaders across sectors and areas of expertise. This work has led to the realization that heart failure is too often misunderstood by patients, caregivers, policymakers, payers, the general public, and healthcare professionals themselves, leading to a collaborative commitment to promote better practice and awareness of heart failure diagnosis, treatment, and care.
“Despite the fact that heart failure is the world’s leading cause of hospitalisation, it remains a largely neglected disease area, particularly on national policy agendas,” said Jean-Luc Eiselé, CEO of WHF. “We need an urgent, global, concerted effort to tackle the increasing prevalence of heart failure in an era of an aging world population. We know that practical, patient-centred and cost-effective solutions exist and the time to apply them at scale is now.”
The Alliance was created to shine a light on this connection between heart failure and aging and to spur collaborative action across sectors and areas of expertise. To that end, the Alliance Partners are putting forth a Consensus Statement calling on policymakers, health care professionals, patient advocates, NGOs, and others interested in addressing the needs of the growing global aging population to take action to educate, raise awareness, and boost research on heart failure and healthier and more active aging.
We know that 26 million people worldwide are affected by heart failure—more than the population of Australia. Over 80% of people living with heart failure in Europe and in the United States are over 65, and heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalization in older adults as well as the leading cause of unplanned hospital readmissions. As a consequence, the cost of heart failure to health systems is predicted to increase by 127% between 2014 and 2030.
“The increasing global prevalence of heart failure, linked in large part to demographic aging, underscores the urgency of raising its visibility as a global health priority and of addressing it in new and innovative ways,” said Michael W. Hodin, CEO of GCOA. “Early, common and prevailing symptoms of heart failure, like fatigue or shortness of breath, for example, are too often dismissed as simply a normal part of getting older. This complacency, unfortunately, perpetuates a culture of ageism in many forms—self-inflicted, ingrained in the healthcare system, among patients and family members, and across society.”
The Alliance has already been focused on a number of initiatives at the intersection of aging and heart failure, conducting research and writing reports on clinical best practices across the global heart failure landscape and on the impact on hospitals and health systems when diagnosis is missed or delayed until an acute care situation.
“The economic implications of heart failure for hospital systems, public and private payers, and therefore society at large are huge, especially when you consider the cases that are misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late,” said Nick Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, a research partner of the Alliance. “Many diseases and conditions that are often associated with aging could be avoided with earlier detection that comes from a better understanding of symptoms. But in the case of heart failure, we still need clarity of what is at stake given this connection to aging.”
The Alliance structure consists of (1) the Partners representing the global, cross-sector, and cross-discipline nature of the initiative; (2) the Secretariat housed within GCOA to execute upon Alliance strategies; and (3) the Governing Committee, which will work closely with the Secretariat to guide the Alliance agenda, serve as strategic advisors, lend expertise, and enhance the credibility and positioning of heart failure as we age with policymakers, healthcare professionals, caregivers, patients and families.
Inaugural Governing Committee members include: Holly S. Andersen, MD, FACC, Attending Cardiologist, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of Education & Outreach, The Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute, The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center; Michele Bolles, National Vice President, Quality and Health IT, American Heart Association; Jean-Luc Eiselé, CEO, World Heart Federation; Daniel E. Forman, MD, FAHA, FACC, Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Chair, Section of Geriatric Cardiology, Divisions of Geriatrics and Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Director of Emerging Therapeutics, Aging Institute, University of Pittsburgh; Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation and GeroFit, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System; Physician Scientist, Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System; Neil Johnson, Non-Executive Director/Founding Member, Global Heart Hub; Chief Executive, Croí—West of Ireland Cardiac & Stroke Foundation; Sue Koob, CEO, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association; and Mark Wortmann, former Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Disease International.
“Eighty-six percent of our members care for patients with heart failure,” said Koob, an Alliance Governing Committee member. “They play a key role in the overall prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and are critical in establishing strong relationships between patients and hospitals. PCNA is proud to drive greater awareness of and global action on heart failure as part of the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging.”
In addition to the 2019 Alliance projects, the Alliance has a robust research, communications, and advocacy agenda for 2020, including engagement in the World Health Organization’s Decade of Healthy Ageing, to be launched at the World Health Assembly in May 2020, which will mark a major milestone in elevating heart failure on the global policy agenda.
“Heart failure is currently not prioritized because it is not well understood by those most affected, including patients themselves,” said Hodin. “But, one-in-five of us can expect to live with heart failure at some point in our lives. Through the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging, we are calling on all stakeholders to make healthy aging a reality for those living with or at risk of heart failure.”
ABOUT THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE ON HEART FAILURE & HEALTHY AGING
The Global Alliance on Heart Failure & Healthy Aging is the result of a series of successive roundtables convened by the Global Coalition on Aging in New York, Brussels, and Chicago throughout 2018. The meetings collectively brought together more than 70 experts from across sectors, disciplines and geographies who identified the connection between heart failure and aging as a new opportunity to improve patients’ quality of life, better meet patient and caregiver needs, and better manage health systems costs related to heart failure by diagnosing patients as early as possible and ensuring their access to the best available treatments. The Alliance is made possible through funding and support from GCOA members Novartis and Amgen.
ABOUT THE GLOBAL COALITION ON AGING
The Global Coalition on Aging aims to reshape how global leaders approach and prepare for the 21st century’s profound shift in population aging. GCOA uniquely brings together global corporations across industry sectors with common strategic interests in aging populations, a comprehensive and systemic understanding of aging, and an optimistic view of its impact. Through research, public policy analysis, advocacy, and strategic communications, GCOA is advancing innovative solutions and working to ensure global aging is a path to health, productivity and economic growth. For more information, visit www.globalcoalitiononaging.com.
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