New data suggests heart failure in the elderly is likely to triple by the middle of the century
Heart failure is a common event that rises with age, and is linked to a number of conditions like atherosclerosis and hypertension. While failure in itself is a traumatic experience and frequently leads to fatalities, it also leaves scar tissue and impacts on future cardiovascular health too; further compounding recovery.
The latest data from the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES) Reykjavík study was presented at the ESC (European Society of Cardiology) Congress, and indicates a worrying rise in heart failure within the elderly proportion of society. The AGES study began in 2002 as a collaboration between the National Institute on Aging in the United States and the Icelandic Heart Association. Iceland is a great place for health research because of its small and relatively homogenous population. The study involved 5706 elderly participants with a mean age of 77 years, all of which were randomly selected for a good population spread.
"Heart failure is a common condition worldwide and increases with age. Various disorders can cause heart failure, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. As these are more prevalent with age the consequence is an increased population of elderly who may develop heart failure"
In those 69 years or younger the prevalence was 1.9%, but this grew to 6% in those over 80. The overall rate in men was 4.8% in comparison to 2.8% in women. Using Iceland's national statistics, the research team then combined the data to make a prediction of heart failure prevalence in the future.
With the greatest growth increase forecast within the over 70s group, the researchers calculated that there will be a 2.3 fold increase by 2040 and 2.9 times by the 2060.
"This study predicts that heart failure in the elderly will more than double by 2040 and triple by 2060. In the coming decades the majority of heart failure patients will be elderly individuals and this will have major health-economical consequences. The findings are a wake-up call for policy makers and healthcare providers that more needs to be done to prevent heart failure. This includes giving prompt treatment for heart attacks and encouraging adherence to preventative therapies and lifestyle changes afterwards"
While the data is exclusively taken from the Icelandic population, it can be extrapolated to much of the developed world, in which similar demographic trends are leading to population aging. More incidence of heart failure means greater expenses and care, all of which are extremely expensive to provide. The data is a further wake up call that we cannot ignore the coming and present burden of age-related disease.
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