Fewer than one in 10 people in Ireland are able to spot the signs of heart failure – and a quarter of people experiencing symptoms would wait a week "or not bother at all" to get medical advice.
A new survey has exposed a "staggering lack of awareness" among Irish people about heart disease, which is the country's number one killer.
The largest survey about heart failure ever conducted in Europe published on Heart Failure Awareness Day found that just 7pc of people were able to identify three common symptoms.
The symptoms include shortness of breath, swollen ankles and fatigue. Meanwhile, 87pc mistook at least one of the common symptoms for ageing.
Meanwhile, 84pc could not recognise three common causes of heart failure such as damage from a previous heart attack, high blood pressure or a weak heart muscle.
Heart failure is a medical term describing a state where the heart fails to pump enough blood to the body's tissues.
With too little blood being delivered, the organs and other tissues do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly.
The Irish Heart Foundation has warned that an increasing number of patients are developing heart failure because of the ageing population, obesity and poor lifestyle, with thousands at risk of missing the fatal symptoms. Some 90,000 people are living with heart disease in this country – but the public is more afraid of stroke, heart attacks and cancer, despite heart disease being more deadly.
Almost one in five in the population will develop heart failure at some point in their lives – though almost two-thirds are unaware of the risk.
One in six (16pc) surveyed wrongly believed patients with heart failure live longer than those with advanced breast or bowel cancer, heart attack or stroke.
The Novartis-sponsored survey of 11,000 people across Europe, including 1,000 people in Ireland, discovered that one in four Irish people would wait a week or more, or would not seek medical advice at all, when experiencing common symptoms of heart failure.