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Study Finds Heart Failure to be New Epidemic

February 18, 2014

A new report by researchers at Drexel University says that heart failure poses an especially large public health burden and represents a new epidemic of cardiovascular disease.

According to the authors, heart failure affects nearly 5.8 million people in the United States, and more than 23 million people worldwide. The reports notes that more than 550,000 individuals in the United States are diagnosed annually with heart failure for the first time, and that one-in-five have a lifetime risk of developing the syndrome.

Longjian Liu“In contrast to other forms of cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease and stroke, the prevalence, incidence and mortality from heart failure are increasing and the prognosis remains poor,” said Longjian Liu, MD, PhD, MSc, FAHA (image left), the corresponding author and associate professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health. “In fact, the survival rate within one-year of the first hospitalization for heart failure is bleaker than for nearly all cancers.”

In 2008, heart failure accounted for more than $35 billion in health care costs in the United States according to the authors.

The report, “Epidemiology of Heart Failure and Scope of the Problem,” was published in the February 2014 edition of Cardiology Clinics. The report was co-authored by Howard Eisen, MD, FACC, FAHA, FACP, a faculty member with the Division of Cardiology at the Drexel University College of Medicine.

The report notes that men and African Americans were more likely to develop heart failure. In addition, prevalence of heart failure significantly increases in individuals 65 years of age and older.

“The worldwide prevalence of heart failure seems to have been increasing over the past decades,” said Liu. “Despite advances in therapy and health management, heart failure remains a deadly clinical syndrome.”

In 2008, the authors report that 281,437 deaths were attributed to heart failure. In the United States, nearly 50 percent of people diagnosed with heart failure die within five years. A review of cases in Europe found that there is an 11 percent mortality rate within the first year and 41 percent over five years.

Heart failure is a multisystem disorder characterized by abnormalities and changes that impair the ability of either or both heart ventricles to fill or eject. Heart failure syndromes are frequently fatal in which the heart loses its ability to pump effectively in response to the body’s needs.

There are many risk factors for heart failure. The most common include hypertension, arrhythmias, diabetes, congenital heart disease and cardiomyopathy, as well as high cholesterol, hyperglycemia, cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, family history of heart disease and poorer socioeconomic position over a lifetime.