Reseachers now have what they see as proof of a heart failure epidemic. And they are issuing a call to action for health care systems to meet the need.
In the largest health system study of its kind, researchers at the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute found that the annual number of heart failure cases more than doubled for Henry Ford Health System in Detroit from 1989-1997. Over that nine-year period, 26,442 cases were identified. Strikingly, the annual prevalence rose from 9 to 20 cases per 1000 health system patients.
The results of the Resource Utilization Among Congestive Heart Failure (REACH) Study were presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) scientific sessions in New Orleans.
"This study proves the theoretical conclusions from Framingham and other studies -- that when we look from a health system perspective, there is a chronic heart failure epidemic being experienced by large health systems across the U.S. today," says Peter McCullough, M.D., M.P.H., Henry Ford's director of cardiovascular informatics who led the study.
According to McCullough, the increasing prevalence is due to improved diagnostic and treatment therapies. People are living longer than ever with heart failure. This translates into an increasing need for specially trained heart failure experts within the field of internal medicine.
"Often times when people think of a chronic disease epidemic, AIDS or cancer might come to mind. But heart failure must be taken seriously," Dr. McCullough says. "Resource planning for the management of chronic heart failure must take place by health systems along with local, state and national public health officials."