The burden of heart failure will continue to increase substantially over the next 20 years, concludes a study in Heart.
Researchers used epidemiological data to calculate the future burden of heart failure in Scotland over the period 2000 to 2020. Their projections were based on expected changes in the age structure of the Scottish population. Similar changes can be anticipated in the rest of the UK and in other developed countries such as the USA, they report.
They estimated that 40,000 men and 45,000 women aged 45 years or over currently have heart failure in Scotland. On the basis of population changes alone, the authors calculated that these figures will rise by 2,300 (6 per cent) in men and 1,500 (3 per cent) in women by the year 2005. By 2020, the number of men with heart failure will increase 31 per cent, and by 17 per cent in women.
On the same basis, the annual number of GP visits is also likely to rise. The authors suggest 6,400 more men and 2,500 more women will have to see their doctor in 2005, and in the longer term, visits will increase by 40 per cent among men and a significantly lower 16 per cent in women. Annual hospital admissions for heart failure are also expected to increase by 34 per cent in men by 2020, and 12 per cent in women.
The authors said that despite some inevitable study limitations, the results show that the burden of heart failure will continue to increase substantially over the next two decades, with the greatest increase likely to occur in men. Future health service planning must take this into account, they conclude.