Heart Failure: Cause For More Young Adult Deaths in US

In spite of the decline in heart related deaths in the US over the last 10 years, there is now an upsurge in premature heart deaths due to the increase in obesity and diabetes according to a study recently done by Northwestern Medicine which is part of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a nationally ranked academic center in Chicago, Illinois.

The study shows that the increase in heart failure deaths in US adults ranging in age from 35 to 64 was high especially in young black men.

Dr. Sadiya Khan, who is a cardiologist affiliated with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the author of the study, said that the data gathered showed that inspite of medical advancements made over the last 20 years, more attention needs to be given in the area of prevention.

Because there are currently over 93 million US adults who are obese and about 30 million who have diabetes, Kahn says the trend for more deaths from heart failure can be expected to get worse. It is a known fact that obesity and diabetes are known to negatively impact a person’s heart health.

About 5.7 million people live with one or more of the conditions that signal the possible condition for heart failure which is a sign the heart is weakened and does not efficiently pump enough blood through the body. Signs of this condition are shortness of breath, weakness, swelling in legs and feet, persistent coughing and death.

The study examined 47 million death certificates from the years 1999 to 2017, almost 18 years, which used the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) data base.  The study found that even after years of lowering the rate of deaths from heart failure, there is a slow rise once again beginning in 2017.

And the increase was shown to be higher in the deaths of young black male and female adults due to heart failure than there were for young white male and female women.

Kahn said in her study that the reasons for young black men and women being more affected by heart failure deaths is due to their adverse health conditions such as high blood pressure which impacts their heart health. However, she also reports that ‘social determinants’ could also be a contributing factor to the increased likelihood of death by heart failure to young black adults. That’s because she says that poor health conditions can go undetected since more black people live in poverty which makes health care less accessible to them and so conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes can go undetected, unrecognized and untreated.

To prevent deaths from heart failure, Kahn says, maintaining healthy weight and managing high blood pressure and glucose levels are the key.