The number of people diagnosed with heart failure is increasing and projected to rise by 46 percent by 2030, resulting in more than 8 million people with heart failure, according to the American Heart Association’s 2017 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update published Wednesday.
There are several reasons for the rise in heart failure, which means the heart is too weak to pump blood throughout the body, experts said.
In part, the increase can be attributed to medical advances, because more people are surviving heart attacks and therefore face higher heart failure risk afterward, said Paul Muntner, Ph.D., a member of the statistical update’s writing panel and a professor and vice chair in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But the aging of America and other health problems are also major contributors.
“The epidemics of diabetes and obesity both contribute to the rising number of patients who acquire heart failure—our growing population of the elderly are particularly susceptible,” said Mariell Jessup, M.D., a heart failure expert and former president of the American Heart Association.
The number of adults living with heart failure increased from about 5.7 million (2009-2012) to about 6.5 million (2011-2014). Data are based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is taken in stages over multiple years.
Now published in the AHA journal Circulation, the statistical update has been a frequently cited reference every year since 1958. It’s produced using the most-recent data available compiled by the AHA, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other government sources.
In the latest update, many major statistics did not change significantly.
Cardiovascular diseases including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and stroke collectively remain the leading cause of death in the world and the United States. Heart disease and stroke are still the leading two killers in the world; in the U.S., heart disease ranks first and stroke fifth.
Below are some key statistics; the most recent data available for the international information in the statistical update was from 2013. The U.S. data is from 2014.
- Cardiovascular diseases were the most common cause of death in the world, claiming about 17.3 million lives.
- In the U.S., more than 1 in 3 adults (92.1 million adults) have cardiovascular diseases, accounting for 807,775 deaths.
- About 790,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 114,000 will die.
- In the U.S., about 795,000 adults experienced a new or recurrent stroke, accounting for nearly 133,000 deaths.
- There were more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the U.S., nearly 90 percent of them fatal.
Disparities in how these diseases affect different people continued, according to the update.
“We know that advances in cardiovascular health are not distributed evenly across the population,” said Emelia J. Benjamin, M.D., chair of the AHA Statistics Committee and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. “In particular, individuals who live in rural communities, have less education, have lower incomes, and are ethnic or racial minorities have an undue burden of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors.”
The update also included the latest figures on what the AHA calls “Life’s Simple 7,” key measures and behaviors that can help people stay healthy and lower their risk for heart disease, stroke and other major problems.
Life’s Simple 7 includes non-smoking, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a normal body weight, and controlling of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
“There is a lot of information and misinformation about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Benjamin said. “The AHA has tried to simplify awareness of cardiovascular disease by emphasizing AHA’s Life’s Simple 7.”
Here are statistics related to Life’s Simple 7, with the most recent year for which data are available:
- Nearly 17 percent of men, 14 percent of women and nearly 5 percent of children ages 12 to 17 smoked cigarettes in 2015.
- About 22 percent of adults in 2015 met federal physical activity guidelines.
- Between 1999 and 2012, although AHA healthy diet scores tended to improve in all races and ethnicities, income and education levels, many disparities present in earlier years widened over time, with generally smaller improvements seen in minority groups and those with lower income or education.
- In the U.S., the prevalence of obesity among adults, estimated using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, increased from 1999 to 2000 through 2013 to 2014, from 30.5 percent to 37.7 percent.
- In the U.S., the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years, estimated using the national data, is 33.4 percent (16.2 percent were overweight and 17.2 percent were obese).
- Nearly 94.6 million, or 40 percent, of American adults had total cholesterol of 200 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
- Nearly 86 million, or 34 percent, of American adults had high blood pressure.
- An estimated 23.4 million, or 9.1 percent, of American adults have diagnosed diabetes. About 7.6 million, or 3.1 percent, of American adults have undiagnosed diabetes; and about 81.6 million, or 33.9 percent, of American adults have prediabetes.