It’s the middle of February so we all know what that means – red hearts everywhere to celebrate a special holiday. If you’re thinking about Valentine’s Day, you wouldn’t be wrong. But this week we are recognizing another heart-based campaign – Heart Failure Awareness Week.
In 2001 the Heart Failure Society of America, with support from the U.S. Senate, declared the week of Valentine’s Day as National Heart Failure Awareness Week. This year, it’s taken place February 10-16, with a campaign to promote heart failure awareness, patient education, and heart failure prevention.
Heart failure is a growing problem in the United States with current estimates at 6.5 million Americans over the age of 20 having heart failure. It accounts for 8.5% of all heart disease deaths and by some estimates actually contributes to 36% of all cardiovascular disease deaths. Sadly, 50% of patients with heart failure will have an average life expectancy of five years. Even more dire, only 10-20% of patients with severe or advanced heart failure will be alive after one year.
One of the treatment options for patients with heart failure is a heart transplant. As we’ve noted in this blog many times, the demand for hearts for transplant far outweighs the available supply. In all cases, someone must die in order for someone else to have a chance to live. That is why we continue to be laser-focused at BIOLIFE4D to accomplish our goal of 3D bioprinting human hearts viable for transplant.
One life shouldn’t depend on the death of another. Patients shouldn’t have to suffer on a transplant list for weeks, months, or even years, only to die before a viable organ matches their transplant needs. In our world, when someone suffers from heart failure, they can receive a new, 3D printed heart made from their own cells within weeks, and begin the process of recovery and living the rest of their life.
This week there will be plenty of hearts in store windows reminding us all of Valentine’s Day. But let’s spread some awareness for heart disease. If you or your family has been affected by heart disease, share your story on social media with the hashtag #HFWeek2019 and tag BIOLIFE4D’s handle. We’ll retweet your story and help spread awareness. Together we can beat this disease!