Study: Invest in heart health now or pay later

It seems logical that as the number of older people increases, the rates of heart failure would also increase, since it is a disease that predominantly affects the elderly. But new data from a 14-year study shows that the heart failure could be a lot bigger than we think.

The Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik (AGES- Reykjavik) study, a collaboration between the National Institute on Aging and the Icelandic Heart Association, has spent 14 years collecting data on more than 5,700 individuals age 66-98.

The study team then extrapolated the data to see what heart failure and elderly population statistics might look like in 2060. Right now, the study showed, the prevalence of heart failure is higher in men (4.8 percent) than in women (2.8 percent) and increases with age.

But four decades from now, the rates of heart failure could be three times the current rates across the senior demographic, unless more attention is given to preventive measures and healthier habits, warn the study’s authors, who presented the research at this week’s European Society of Cardiology conference in Rome.

“The findings are a wake-up call for policy makers and healthcare providers that more needs to be done to prevent heart failure,” said Prof. Ragnar Danielsen, a cardiologist at Landspitali University Hospital in Reykjavik. “This includes giving prompt treatment for heart attacks and encouraging adherence to preventative therapies and lifestyle changes afterwards.”

Topics: Clinical