Heart Failure on the Decline

Heart failure cases in Ontario dropping

(RxWiki News) Prevention efforts appear to be lending a hand in reducing the number of heart failure cases. At least in Canada. Investigators have found that heart failure cases have dropped by a third in Ontario.

The decrease in new cases was over a decade-long period, and has largely been attributed to better controlled blood pressure and cholesterol, and a decline in smoking.

"Control blood pressure to lower heart failure risk."

Jack Tu, MD, PhD, a lead researcher from the University of Toronto and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, said the drop amounts to an average annual decline of 3 percent, which is similar to the observed reductions in overall heart disease mortality and incidence of ischemic heart disease events in Canada.

Dr. Tu, also a physician at the Schulich Heart Centre and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, also noted that hypertension is the second most important cause of heart failure, and previous studies have shown that Ontario has one of the highest rates of blood pressure control.

A 2011 Journal of the American Medical Association study found similar results in the United States, determining that hospitalizations among elderly heart failure patients decreased by 30 percent over 10 years.

Investigators followed a large group of Ontario-based patients representative of the population between 1997 and 2007. During the study there were 419,551 reported heart failure cases. Of those, 216,190 patients were hospitalized as a result of heart failure, while the remainder were treated on an outpatient basis.

Among the patients treated, 80 percent were over the age of 65. Patients admitted to the hospital had a tendency to be older or have other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

In addition to the decline in the total number of heart failure cases, investigators also found a slight decrease in mortality from heart failure. The mortality rate among hospitalized patients decreased from 36 percent to 34 percent, while the number who died after being treated as outpatients declined from 18 percent to 16 percent.

Though researchers said the findings were encouraging, they cautioned that as the population continues to age, and diabetes and obesity continue to increase, it is possible that the downward trend could reach a plateau or even reverse in the future.

The research was recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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Review Date: 
August 19, 2012