Alcohol/drug abuse

Drinking an excess of alcohol or taking recreational drugs may have a toxic effect on the heart, increasing the risk of developing heart failure.

Patients with heart failure will frequently have to make lifestyle adjustments and comply with long-term medical treatment. Patient motivation and self-care skills are essential for the success of any treatment plan. Abuse of either alcohol or recreational drugs may make it difficult for patients to actively engage in their own care.

It is important that patients discuss their alcohol or drug dependency openly with their primary care physician or a nurse. Health care professionals will have experience treating patients with alcohol or drug problems and will be able to discuss various options for helping patients and their families to deal with their problem.

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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. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The 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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