A Moment of Science

Heart Failure No Epidemic

True or false:we are now in the midst of a heart-failure epidemic? Find out on this Moment of Science.

Heart failure may be the leading reason for hospitalization in people over sixty- five. But according to a study by the Mayo clinic, there really hasn’t been a significant change in the percentage of people with heart failure over the past twenty years.

What’s really happening is that doctors are getting better at treating heart failure. At the beginning of the study, only thirty-five percent of men and forty-nine percent of women survived five years after heart failure. By the end of the study, the survival rates had gone up, with fifty percent of men and fifty-four percent of women surviving five years or more.

People with heart failure often have symptoms like shortness of breath that require hospitalization or visits to the emergency room. That accounts for the increase in hospitalizations. So it’s not that more people are being diagnosed with heart failure, but rather that the same individuals are living longer and are being admitted to the hospital over and over again.

This study also suggests that it’s worth finding ways to treat these symptoms on an outpatient basis, which would improve the quality of life for the patients and ease the burden on the medical system.

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