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a heart rate monitor imageNovember 24 2017

There has been a 23% increase in heart failure patients since 2002, the British Heart Foundation has reported. It means heart failure “is now as common in the UK as the four most common types of cancer combined.”

Heart failure incidence, as standardised by age and sex, decreased 7% between 2002 and 2014. However, “the estimated absolute number of individuals with newly diagnosed heart failure in the UK increased by 12% (from 170 727 in 2002 to 190 798 in 2014,” said the researchers, funded by the BHF.

The increase is explained mainly by baby boomer’ generation reaching an age at which they are at greater risk of heart failure: the number of people in the UK aged 65-69 increased by 36% between 2002 and 2014.

The population-based study involved examining the primary and secondary care records of 4 million people sourced via the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). It was conducted by researchers from The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford, and funded by the BHF and the NHS National Institute for Health Research

The study also noted that the number of diseases, as well as heart failure, which patients have when they are diagnosed with heart failure has increased significantly. The proportion of patients suffering three or more additional conditions rose from 68% to 87% between 2002 and 2014.

Professor Rahimi, deputy director of The George Institute for Global Health UK, said: “The number of diseases associated with heart failure was high, and increased over time. This suggests that as the number of patients with heart failure grows, caring for them is also becoming more complex, increasing the burden on health services.”

Researchers noted that “socioeconomically deprived individuals were more likely to develop heart failure than were affluent individuals” and would do so at an earlier age.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, the BHF’s associate medical director, commented: “Heart failure is a cruel and debilitating illness affecting nearly a million people across the UK, with sufferers in severe cases often having poorer survival rates than many cancers. Currently, heart failure is incurable and difficult to treat, and the number of people living with it is increasing. This study highlights the urgent need for more to be done to end the postcode lottery in heart failure incidence.”

Links:
BHF announcement        
N Conrad et al. ‘Temporal trends and patterns in heart failure incidence: a population-based study of 4 million individuals’ The Lancet. Published online November 22 2017         

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