Myths and facts about heart failure

Heart failure means your heart has stopped beating

MYTH: Heart failure doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped beating. Heart failure occurs when your heart muscle or valves have been damaged and so your heart isn’t able to pump blood around your body as well as it should.

Heart failure is serious

FACT: Heart failure is a very serious condition and can shorten your life. However, by working with your doctor and nurse, you can get effective treatments and make changes to your lifestyle that will both ease your symptoms, improve your quality of life and prolong your life.

Heart failure is common

FACT: Currently, we estimate that approx. 1 to 2% of the adult population in developed countries have heart failure, rising to ≥10% among people over 70 years of age.

Heart failure can’t be treated

MYTH: There are many treatments available for heart failure that are very effective at reducing symptoms and delaying the progression of the condition. You should discuss treatment options with your doctor.

If you have heart failure you shouldn’t exercise

MYTH: It’s very important for people with heart failure to exercise. However, it’s also important that you don’t overdo it. The right amount of exercise can help to improve blood flow and alleviate some of your symptoms.

To learn more about exercising with heart failure, click here.

Heart failure is a normal consequence of getting old

MYTH: Heart Failure is ageless and affects all ages. Most people with heart failure are elderly; however, heart failure isn’t necessarily a consequence of age. It’s a serious cardiovascular condition that can often be prevented and greatly helped with available treatments.

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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