Carers Australia has teamed up with Heart Support-Australia to participate in a four nation study of carers of people with heart failure, to determine the impact on family and friend carers and better target related support services.

Initiated by the International Alliance of Carer Organizations (IACO), the Novartis-funded study is taking place in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

By completing a ten minute online questionnaire, unpaid carers of people with heart failure can contribute to a greater understanding of how this caring role affects health, finances, employment and social life, as well as learning about the carer relationship with healthcare providers.

For the purpose of this survey, heart failure is a clinical syndrome in which a person may experience symptoms such as breathing difficulties, gathering of fluid in the lower limbs or stomach and extreme lethargy or tiredness. When the heart either fails to pump efficiently or it fails to relax and fill efficiently, this is heart failure.

Cardiovascular disease now affects more than 3.7 million Australians, accounts for more than 45,000 deaths each year and is Australia’s most costly health condition. A significant increase is also projected in the number of Australians affected by irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation, and heart failure.

Irregular heartbeat increases the risk of stroke five-fold and the number of Australians affected is projected to increase by 60% over the next 15 years.

These statistics emphasise the importance of studying the impact on carers of people with heart failure and what is needed to support them in their role.

The results will be released during the 7th International Carers Conference being held in Adelaide from 4-6 October 2017.