More Elderly Living With Heart Failure
Study: Treating So Many Patients Could Financially Strain Health Care System
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 25, 2008 -- Although the number of older Americans newly diagnosed with
heart failure has declined
slightly in recent years, a new study shows more people are living with the
But researchers say that trend is both good news and bad news.
Thanks to advances in treatment, researchers say the good news is that death
rates and the incidence of heart failure have fallen slightly among older
people in recent years. The bad news is that caring for a growing number of
elderly people living with heart failure will put an increasingly heavy
financial burden on Medicare and the health care system in the future.
"From all indications, heart failure will continue to be a major public
health burden, consuming billions of dollars each year," says researcher
Lesley Curtis, PhD, a health services researcher at Duke University.
Researchers say nearly 5 million Americans suffer from heart failure and
despite modest improvements in survival rates, every year nearly one in three
diagnosed with the disease will die from it.
Heart Failure Trends Among Elderly
In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,
researchers analyzed trends in heart failure among the elderly from a sample of
5% of Medicare claims and looked at those diagnosed with heart failure between
1994 and 2003. During that time, 622,786 people were diagnosed with having
Overall, the results showed the number of elderly living with heart failure
steadily increased during the 10-year study period, from about 140,000 to
200,000. The prevalence of heart failure was greater in men than women.
A slight but steady decline in the number of elderly newly diagnosed with
heart failure was found among most age groups. The biggest drop in the
incidence of heart failure was among those aged 80 to 84 years old.
However, among those aged 65 to 69 years old, the incidence of heart failure
Researchers say documenting the rate at which a disease occurs and how many
people have it at one time is important for planning resources needed for
future health care.