Monday Nov 10, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) – The rate of hospitalization for heart failure has increased drastically among seniors in the last three decades in the United States, according to a study presented at the American heart Association conference in New Orleans.
The study found that the number of seniors aged 65 and older who were hospitalized for heart failure increased 131 percent to 807,082 in 2006 from 348,866 in 1980.
The increase was particularly significant among women. But among the three major cardiovascular disease (other two being coronary heart disease and stroke), only heart failure has increased in the hospitalization rate.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump blood the way it is supposed to. An estimated 5.3 people in the US live with heart failure and 660,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
The study led by Longjian Liu, M.D., Ph.D., M.Sc., of the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia, Pa was based on data for 2.2 million patients aged 65 or older enrolled in the National Hospital Discharge Survey between 1980 and 2006.
"Both the number of patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of heart failure and age-adjusted hospitalization rates for heart failure have increased dramatically over the past 27 years," said Liu.
In the study, heart failure was defined as a primary diagnosis of heart failure at hospital discharge.
Dr. Liu found the following cited from a press release by the AHA:
• The estimated number of patients age 65 and older who were hospitalized for heart failure increased from 348,866 in 1980 to 807,082 in 2006 – a 131 percent increase.
• For men, rates rose from 16.57 hospitalizations per 1,000 members of the population in 1980 to 22.87 in 2006.
• For women, rates rose from 13.95 hospitalizations per 1,000 members of the population to 19.58 in 2006.
• Women had a significantly higher annual percentage increase rate than men (55 percent vs. 20 percent).
• From 2002–2006, the relative risk of being hospitalized due to heart failure was 1.37 times higher than it had been from 1980–84.
• Patients ages 75–84 had twice the risk of being hospitalized for heart failure than those 65–74; those age 85 or older had four times more risk of hospitalization for heart failure than those ages 65–74.
The good news is that cases of hospitalizations for other two forms of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke, have decreased since the mid-1980s.
The AHA said in a written statement that heart failure is expected to cost $34.8 billion in the United States this year. And Dr. Liu was cited as saying the peak of the crisis is still to come.
"Over the next decades, the number of U.S. adults age 65 and older will double to a projected 70 million, and more than one in five will be 65 or older by the year 2030," he said.
"Because heart failure disproportionately affects the elderly, there is no doubt that the burden of heart failure will increase unless innovative strategies are implemented. The key is to prevent risk factors for the disease."
Heart failure can be caused by a wide range of factors including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, valvular heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, physical inactivity and fatty food intake.
Dr. Liu was cited as saying efforts are also needed to prevent chronic kidney disease and pneumonia, which contribute to heart failure as well.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute gives the following advice on heart failure prevention.
For People Who Have Healthy Hearts
If you have a healthy heart, you can take action to prevent heart disease, which helps prevent heart failure. To prevent heart disease:
* Follow a heart healthy diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean meat. It also should be low in salt, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Examples of healthy eating plans are the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan.
* Quit smoking if you smoke. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
* Lose weight if you're overweight or obese.
* Get regular physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes on most, and preferably all, days of the week.
* Avoid using illegal drugs.
For People Who Are at High Risk for Heart Failure
Even if you're at high risk for heart failure, you can take steps to reduce your risks. People at high risk include those who have high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or diabetes, or people who are obese.
* Follow all of the steps listed above.
* Treat and control any conditions that cause heart failure. Take medicines as your doctor prescribes.
* Avoid drinking alcohol.
* See your doctor for regular follow-up visits.
For People Who Have Heart Damage but No Signs of Heart Failure
If you have heart damage but no signs of heart failure, you can still reduce your risks. In addition to taking the steps above, take all of the medicines your doctor prescribes to reduce your heart's workload.
If you have side effects from a medicine, tell your doctor. You should never stop taking medicine without asking your doctor first.
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