Understanding your role

Being a caregiver may mean that you have to play many roles all at once, including being a friend, confidant, nurse and assistant. Your role as caregiver may happen gradually, over a period of time, or it can happen suddenly, if your partner or relative has a heart attack for example.

Your role will involve helping, supporting and coaching your partner or relative to help adjust their lifestyle to fit with their new life managing their heart failure. You are likely to have the largest impact on their success in working with their healthcare team and following their instructions. It’s essential that you are involved because for many people managing their heart failure, the caregiver is the most important person involved in their care. You should aim to help your partner or relative to learn and accept that the self-management side of living with heart failure is down to them whilst trying not to be over protective. Being a caregiver is about being the patient’s coach and not feeling obliged to do things. It’s about enabling the patient to self-manage.

Your role as carer may not be permanent and the help and support your partner or relative needs at the moment may get less with time.

Click on the links below to find out more about the help and support you can give your partner or relative.

Helping with personal care and practical issues
Helping with medical care issues
Lending emotional support
Other tips

ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers.

heartfailurematters.org is a European Society of Cardiology website

The heartfailurematters.org website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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