October 30, 2019

Heart failure deaths an epidemic in United States

Kaiser Permanente research identifies national trend linked to aging of baby boomers and upturn in heart disease mortality.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Deaths due to heart failure are increasing in the United States, particularly among the over-age-65 population, according to Kaiser Permanente research published in JAMA Cardiology.

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive form of heart disease in which the heart muscle does not pump blood as efficiently as it should. It is a debilitating condition that can result in a long period of declining quality of life. About 1 in 8 deaths from heart disease in the United States have heart failure as the underlying cause, and about 9 out of 10 of those deaths are in people over age 65.

“The United States is now experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of older people dying from heart disease, and especially heart failure,” said lead author Stephen Sidney, MD, MPH, senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. “This research underscores the importance of focusing on heart health in the population of people over age 65, which grew by 10 million between 2011 and 2017 and is projected to increase by another 22 million by 2030.”

Stephen Sidney, MD, MPH
Stephen Sidney, MD, MPH

For this study, Kaiser Permanente researchers analyzed publicly available national data in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research, or CDC WONDER, system. Researchers found that more than 647,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2017, about 51,000 more than died from heart disease in 2011. Of those deaths, 80,000 had heart failure as the underlying cause in 2017, about 22,000 more than in 2011.

The researchers found that the rate of death and the total number of deaths with heart failure as the underlying cause have increased substantially. The study reported a 20.7% increase in the age-adjusted mortality rate for heart failure, which, coupled with the aging of the population, resulted in a 38% increase in number of heart failure deaths.

“We are now in the midst of a ‘silver tsunami’ of heart disease and heart failure,” said senior author Jamal S. Rana, MD, PhD, chief of cardiology at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center and adjunct research investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “This will require both innovation in clinical care for our patients and urgent policy initiatives at the health care systems level to be better prepared for its impact.”

In addition to Drs. Sidney and Rana, co-authors were Alan S. Go, MD; Matthew D. Solomon, MD, PhD; and Andrew P. Ambrosy, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research; and Marc G. Jaffe, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in South San Francisco.

A summary report was also presented today by the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

Cardiovascular disease is an active area of study for Kaiser Permanente research scientists.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.

Contacts

Janet Byron
janet.l.byron@kp.org
510-891-3115

Kerry Sinclair
ksinclair@webershandwick.com
310-854-8278