Lifetime Risks For Heart Failure Similar In Both White And Black Races

April 3, 2013
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Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

A new study from researchers at Northwestern University has found that lifetime risk for heart failure is similar for blacks and whites. The study also found that in both races the risks were higher than expected, ranging from 20 to 45 percent. The research, which is published online this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), is the first to explore the long-term risk of heart failure in different race groups.

First author Mark Huffman, MD, an assistant professor in preventive medicine and medicine-cardiology at Northwestern´s Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said, “This is a bad news scenario for both race groups“¦ With lifetime risks this high, heart failure prevention is paramount for all Americans.”

Huffman said that the study was surprising in the fact that whites showed a higher risk of heart failure level. Previous studies of predominantly white cohorts in Europe had shown lifetime risks for developing heart failure at a lower 20 to 30 percent, he noted.

At the same rate, it was not as surprising to find that black men had a relatively lower lifetime risk of heart failure, 20 to 29 percent, compared to white men and black and white women.

“Heart failure is a disease of the aging, and on average, black men in America tend to have higher competing risks for death earlier in life,” Huffman said in a statement. “Because competing risks are higher, which is itself a major problem, relatively fewer black men have the opportunity to develop heart failure compared to white men in these studies, because they die sooner of other causes.”

Huffman and colleagues´ study is part of the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project. The researchers used data from 39,000 participants in National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-sponsored cohorts to estimate lifetime risks for developing heart failure for adults from ages 45 to 95. They also explored common factors that affect heart failure onset such as smoking, obesity, blood pressure and previous heart attack.

Some of the key findings of the study were that whites and blacks with higher blood pressure and higher body mass index (BMI) had a higher lifetime risk for heart failure, with white males having the highest risk, 30 to 42 percent. Lifetime risk for heart failure for white women was 32 to 39 percent and for black women was 24 to 46 percent.

Despite the higher lifetime risks found in the study, there is some good news: the majority of heart failure incidences are preventable.

“There are things we can do to help prevent heart failure risks, but it requires a concerted effort, not just on the individual level but in our communities,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, chair and professor of preventive medicine and medicine-cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and principal investigator for the study.

“Not smoking, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight over a long period of time, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and preventing heart attacks are all things Americans can to keep their hearts healthy as they age,” he concluded.

Source: Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

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