February is American Heart Month. During this observance dedicated to cardiovascular health, it is important to analyse the prevailing trends of heart failure (HF), a condition of considerable public health concern. HF is a condition that occurs when the heart muscles cannot pump enough blood for the body’s needs. It is a lifelong condition for which there is usually no cure. Globally, HF poses a significant public health burden. According to GlobalData’s epidemiology forecast, diagnosed prevalent cases of HF are expected to increase from 14 million cases in 2023 to approximately 16.1 million cases in the seven major markets (7MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Japan). HF has been associated with ageing; however, it is important to also consider other factors, such as gender differences.
Epidemiological studies of HF have revealed that men generally experience a higher prevalence of HF than women. GlobalData’s forecast estimates that in the 7MM combined, approximately 56% of diagnosed prevalent cases of HF occur in men. Among the 7MM, Japan had the largest difference in the diagnosed prevalent cases of HR between men and women (64% and 36%, respectively), suggesting that men may have greater exposure to risk factors such as tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and hypertension. Access to healthcare and healthcare utilisation may also impact the gender difference in HF in Japan, with men potentially being more reluctant to visit healthcare providers and adhere to treatment, thus facing a delayed diagnosis and a poorer prognosis. Epidemiological studies have also suggested that men often develop HF due to coronary artery disease leading to a heart attack while women may experience HF as a result of hypertension or heart muscle disease.
Ageing is one of the most significant risk factors for HF. GlobalData’s forecast shows that in 2023, adults ages 60 years and older accounted for 86% of all diagnosed prevalent cases of HF in the 7MM, suggesting that HF is a disease of the elderly. Less than 1% of diagnosed prevalent cases of HF occurred in children ages 18 years and younger while adults ages 19–59 years made up 14% of diagnosed prevalent cases of HF in the 7MM. As populations around the world continue to age due to improvements in life expectancy and declining fertility rates, the prevalence of HF will continue to increase. Also, older adults often have co-occurring conditions like hypertension and diabetes that may impact how they respond to treatment. By understanding the relationship between age and HF, healthcare systems can better anticipate and prepare for the increased burden of the condition.
Considering age and gender differences in HF is essential so that healthcare professionals can tailor treatments and improve outcomes in patients. Understanding the role of age and gender in the presentation of HF can guide public health interventions and improve healthcare access and delivery as populations begin to age.
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