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Understanding Heart Failure

Fluid Overload and Heart Failure

Heart Failure (HF) is a significant concern in the US population with its high prevalence and medical cost. Annual hospitalization for HF exceed 1 million in both the United States and Europe, and more than 90% are due to symptoms and signs of fluid overload. 1

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a serious condition for which there is currently no cure. The heart delivers oxygen and nutrients to various organs of the body to provide adequate blood flow. When the heart’s pumping action is weakened, the amount of blood flow is reduced and organs or cells of the body do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

In heart failure, the body tries to compensate for reduced pumping ability. Sometimes this response helps in the short term, but can cause even more problems in the long term. As a result, heart failure is progressive, meaning that it gets worse over time.

A doctor, usually a cardiologist or heart failure specialist, will attempt to manage or slow the progression and reduce symptoms caused by heart failure. These symptoms may include shortness of breath, swelling in the legs or ankles, and/or fatigue. Current standard of care includes medication and/or various implantable devices to treat the failing heart based on progression of the condition. The symptoms of heart failure can often be treated, but the underlying process is largely irreversible.

Heart Failure Statistics

Heart failure is a major cause of illness in the United States and other Western societies and typically results in reduced life expectancy.

  • Over 6 million patients in the U.S. suffer from heart failure 2
  • 825,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year 3
  • The chance of developing heart failure increases sharply with age. At 40 years of age, the lifetime risk of developing heart failure for both men and women is 1 in 5 3,4
  • HF prevalence will increase approximately 46% to > 8 million patients by 2030 5
  • Total direct costs for HF were calculated at $60.2 billion HF as primary diagnosis, $115.4 billion for HF syndrome, and Indirect costs were $10.6 billion for both 6
  • All cause readmission rate is 28% in HF population vs. 16% in non-HF population 7

What Causes Heart Failure?

Heart failure can be caused by a number of different underlying diseases. The most common causes of heart failure are:

  1. Previous heart attack(s) or ischemic heart disease
  2. Valvular heart disease (marked obstruction or leaking of a heart valve)
  3. Persistent high blood pressure or Hypertensive heart disease
  4. Viral or Unknown cause
  5. Alcohol abuse (long-term heavy alcohol consumption) or a history of smoking
  6. Diabetes, Kidney disease, obesity, and other genetic diseases
1. Costanzo MR et al. JACC. 2017;69(19):2428-45.
2. Benjamin EJ et al. Circulation. January 2017;135(10):e146-e603.
3. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2014 Updates: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2014;129(3);e28-e292.
4. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2009 Updates: A Report From the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Committee. Circulation. 2009;119(3);e21-e181.
5. Heidenreich PA et al. Circulation. Heart Failure. 2013;6(3):606-609.
6. Voigt J. et al. Clin Cardiol. 2014 May;37(5):312-321.
7. Milliman Client Report. The High Cost of Heart Failure for the Medicare Population: An Actuarial Cost Analysis. February 2015.

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