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2024 | HFSA

Navigating the Challenges of Multiple Chronic Conditions

Patient News Heart Failure Awareness 365

Sponsored content provided by AstraZeneca                                                                       

Managing your heart failure (HF) alongside other chronic conditions can often feel challenging. However, there's hope in precision medicine. Precision medicine offers tailored approaches to address your individual needs, potentially easing the burden of navigating complex health issues.

The Effects of Chronic Conditions

Heart failure can be caused by chronic conditions including chronic kidney disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), or diabetes. Heart failure may also be caused by the buildup of abnormal proteins (amyloids) in the heart, or amyloidosis. When these deposits accumulate in the heart, they can impair its ability to relax during the diastolic phase1 and can disrupt the heart's electrical system, resulting in arrhythmias that worsen heart failure symptoms.2,3 

If one of your chronic conditions isn't controlled, it can increase your risk of developing another. The risk factors for chronic diseases such as obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking, have a cumulative effect over time.4 Additionally, environmental factors, such as exposure to air pollutants or lack of access to clean air, can have detrimental effects on cardiopulmonary health.5 These risk factors, along with other intermediate factors like high blood pressure and glucose levels, serve as both warning signs for disease and opportunities for secondary prevention and treatment.4 

So, if you are living with one of these conditions, it is important to get health screenings and take steps to prevent your conditions from worsening.6

What is precision medicine and how can it help?

Precision medicine, or personalized medicine, is an approach to healthcare where doctors analyze your unique characteristics, such as your genes, lifestyle, and environment, to tailor the best possible treatment for you. Instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach, they customize your healthcare plan to fit your individual needs.7

Precision medicine provides a more accurate disease diagnosis and allows for personalized treatment, ultimately offering better health outcomes at reduced costs.8,9 Being able to precisely target the underlying molecular cause of an individual’s disease in heart failure would be a fundamental change from current clinical management paradigms which rely mainly on clinical signs and symptoms.10 This approach can help people gain greater control over their chronic illnesses and improve their quality of life by providing more accurate disease diagnosis and using treatments that target the causes of disease.9 

Precision medicine provides tailored treatment for you or your loved ones that considers the interconnections of chronic illnesses and can help prevent disease progression for various conditions. This will allow for improved detection, diagnosis, and treatment options that can help prevent disease progression and pave the way to a cure.

What can I do to advocate for my heart health?

First, ask yourself, do you know what the cause of your chronic condition is? If not, scheduling an appointment with your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor to assess your family/medical history, symptoms, and risk factors, can help you understand your condition's cause and develop a personalized management plan that’s right for you.

1. Shah KB et al. Amyloidosis and the Heart: A Comprehensive Review. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(17):1805-1813. doi:10.1001/ARCHINTE.166.17.1805
2. Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM) | American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cardiomyopathy/what-is-cardiomyopathy-in-adults/transthyretin-amyloid-cardiomyopathy-attr-cm [Last accessed: 02 2023]
3. Oerlemans MIFJ et al. Cardiac Amyloidosis: The Need for Early Diagnosis. Netherlands Heart Journal. 2019;27(11):525. doi:10.1007/S12471-019-1299-1
4. WHO Fact Sheets: Chronic Disease Risk Factors. https://repository.gheli.harvard.edu/repository/11185/ [Last accessed: 02 2023]
5. Aitken WW et al. Climate Change and Cardiovascular Health. J Am Heart Assoc. 2022;11(24):27847. doi:10.1161/jaha.122.027847
6. Having One Chronic Condition Can Boost the Risk for Others - Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/having-one-chronic-condition-can-boost-the-risk-for-others [Last accessed: 02 2023]
7. Nih A The Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program – Building a Research Foundation for 21st Century Medicine. Published online 2015.
8. Precision Medicine| AstraZeneca. https://www.astrazeneca.com/r-d/precision-medicine.html [Last accessed: 02 2023]
9. Whitcomb DC Primer on Precision Medicine for Complex Chronic Disorders. Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2019;10(7). doi:10.14309/CTG.0000000000000067
10. Bringing Precision Medicine to Heart Failure Care. https://www.astrazeneca.com/what-science-can-do/topics/disease-understanding/bringing-precision-medicine-to-heart-failure-care.html [Last accessed: 02 2023]



Helpful Resources

Visit the HFSA Patient Hub to explore tools and resources to help patients stay healthy while living with heart failure. 

View Heart Failure Awareness 365 activities to stay up-to-date on tips for healthy living for people living with heart failure.