The Pumping Marvellous Foundation’s CEO and founder Nick Hartshorne-Evans was a Committee Member of the new NICE Chronic Heart Failure  Guidelines 2018. We cannot underestimate the importance of these guidelines to patients, carers, their families along with all healthcare professionals and allied healthcare professionals who work with and help people live better with heart failure.

We have split the commentary into two sections –

  1. The patient, carer and family
  2. The healthcare professional and allied healthcare professional – either generalist or specialist

Patients, carers or family members

So what do you need to know about the NICE Chronic Heart Failure Guidelines 2018 as patient, carer or family member? What patients need to know

Why are these guidelines important for you

With the best available evidence these new NICE Chronic Heart Failure Guidelines 2018 inform your healthcare teams of the best way to help you. The standards set out indicate to you what you should expect. Our founder Nick was on the guideline committee and these are his thoughts of what you should expect from your healthcare team based on the guidelines.

What you need to know
  1. Your specialist team must include
    1. A doctor with a sub-speciality in heart failure (generally a cardiologist)
    2. A Heart Failure Specialist Nurse
    3. A healthcare professional with expertise in specialist prescribing of heart failure medicines
    4. The specialist team must work with your primary care team

The specialist team must directly involve you if appropriate to rehabilitation services, care for older people and palliative care services.

Once you are stable and you are optimised on your drugs it is the responsibility of your primary care team to take over your management. If you go on to experience further difficulties you should expect to be go back into the specialist heart failure team.

  1. Your specialist team must write you a care plan. A care plan is a document that tells you, your carer or family member and your healthcare team how to treat and care for your needs
    1. Your specialist team needs to write you a care plan
    2. It must summarise your treatment and care
    3. You must be given a copy along with your carer or family if you want, along with your healthcare team and or any other health or social care professional involved in your care
At your first consultation and then subsequent consultations your specialist team should
  1. Discuss your diagnosis and likely outcome
  2. Explain your treatments and any future treatments
  3. Explain what causes your heart failure and any terminology
  4. Explain what heart failure is and the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest and the misconceptions around sudden death
  5. Ensure that you receive patient information for you to be able to help yourself self-manage better
  6. Your specialist team should prescribe medicines called Beta Blockers, ACE inhibitors or ARB’s. If your symptoms remain you should be prescribed medicines called MRA’s like Spironolactone or Eplerenone. Secondary medicine intervention may include Ivabradine and or Sacubitril Valsartan (Entresto)
  7. You should be offered a personalised exercise rehabilitation programme in an easily accessible place for you as long as your condition is stable
  8. People with heart failure do not routinely need to restrict their salt (sodium) or fluid consumption unless instructed to by their specialist team or primary care team. This will be constantly monitored with you

Many patient tell us that one of their frustrations is the lack of what seems clear and  concise communication between their team of heart failure specialists and primary care e.g. GP’s and their practice staff. This guideline should go a long way to helping this communication get better especially with the care plan through the clear focus the guideline has on your specialist team.

With a better diagnosis people will access the correct treatments and care quicker.

There will be more monitoring of patients with more people being offered MRA’s e.g. Spironolactone or Eplerenone.

It is important that you realise you are entitled to cardiac rehabilitation when clinically appropriate.

We hope this has shone some light on these very important NICE Chronic Heart Failure Guidelines 2018 issued by NICE on 12thSeptember 2018. The more you know about what you are entitled to means the closer your treatment and care gets to a “Gold Standard” level.

If you have any questions please contact us here.

What is NICE?

NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and offers guidance to your Doctors, Nurses and other healthcare teams on the best way to help treat and care for you.

Healthcare Professionals

So what do you need to know about the NICE Chronic Heart Failure Guidelines 2018 as a Healthcare professional. What HCPs need to know

What's New?

2018 has seen updated guidance by NICE for the management of chronic heart failure in adults with the NICE Chronic Heart Failure Guidelines 2018 with considerable changes made since 2003 and 2010. It is recommended that you read the full guidelines which can be found at***. Here are some highlights, with emphasis on how they relate to practice in Primary Care.

The Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)

The MDT role has been emphasised and how this links in with primary care. The MDT should consist of a specialist with a sub-speciality in heart failure, responsible for making the diagnosis, a Heart Failure Specialist Nurse, a healthcare professional with specialist prescribing expertise in heart failure. The role of the MDT is to diagnose, give information to those newly diagnosed with heart failure, optimise treatment, commence new medicines that need specialist supervision, manage complex patients e.g. NYHA III and IV, those who are not responding to treatment, and those who have had a complex cardiac device inserted. The MDT should also take the role of referring patients to supportive services such as older peoples team.

The Primary Care Team

This team should also continue to support patients, ensuring communication between various services, recall and review the patient every six months, share any  updates with the patient and the MDT and take over the care of a heart failure patient when they are stable and treatment optimised.

Summary & Care Plan

Each patient should have their own care plan describing follow-up care, symptom recognition, rehabilitation and social status, the named co-ordinator of care and how to access resources for patient information and support. Primary care should have a summary detailing diagnosis and aetiology, medicine management and the patient’s functional and social status.

Diagnosing Heart Failure

See the diagnostic algorithm, of note is that NTproBNP should be taken if measure is >2000 ng/l (>236pmol/l) referral urgently for review within 2 weeks, if NTproBNP 400-2000ng/l (47-236pmol/l) should be referred for review within 6 weeks.


See the diagnostic algorithm, of note is that first line treatment should constitute ACE inhibitor, beta-blocker and MRA diuretic.

People with HF-REF and Chronic Kidney Disease

See algorithm – updated guidance relates eGFR and chronic kidney failure to the prescribing of treatment.

Giving Information to People with Heart Failure

There has been an emphasis on addressing the need for good communication and supportive patient education. Discuss the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis in an open and sensitive manner, encourage patients and their families and carers to ask questions and provide information when needed throughout their care.

Palliative Care

Long-term oxygen therapy should not be used for patients with advanced heart failure, unless underlying conditions present such as chronic obstructive hypoxic pulmonary disease. Patients with heart failure should have their condition discussed with the heart failure MDT.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Offer patients a structured programme including monitoring, physical activity and psychological support.


Do not routinely advise patients to restrict their salt and fluid intake but review on a regular basis.

We hope you have learn’t some important nuggets of information about how you should be treated and cared for as indicated in the new NICE Chronic Heart Failure Guidelines 2018. Remember these are just some of the changes to the existing 2003 / 2010 guidelines. You can find the new guidelines here.

We see these as an enhancement of the existing guidelines but guidelines will only be effective if people hold the implementors to account. So as a patient know what you are entitled to.

Secret sauce

Dictionary – “A special quality or feature regarded as the chief factor in the success of something or someone.”

So, what’s your “Secret Sauce?” What makes you tick?

At Pumping Marvellous, we know it takes some real inner drive to live well with heart failure. Pumping Marvellous are Secret Sauce catalysts; we draw out people’s inner Secret Sauce, people’s superpowers and enable other people to learn from other people’s experiences.

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Who, What, Why?

We are the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, the UK’s heart failure patient-led charity. Find out more about why we do what we do.
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