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Heart failure: how can we prevent the epidemic?

Med J Aust 2003; 179 (8): 422-425.

Summary

  • Heart failure prevalence is increasing because of the ageing of the population and the longer survival of people experiencing myocardial infarction and heart failure. The lifetime risk of developing heart failure in Western countries is about 20%.

  • The increasing prevalence of overweight, obesity and diabetes is likely to accelerate heart failure incidence.

  • While there have been major advances in treating heart failure, a preventive approach promises greater benefit to a larger proportion of the community.

  • The medical strategy for heart failure prevention, based on calculation of individual risk, is focused on the minority of individuals who exceed an arbitrary risk threshold.

  • A public health strategy targeting the whole population offers a greater prospect of reducing the incidence of heart failure and other cardiovascular disease.

  • A multitiered approach, encompassing environmental determinants of lifestyle, legislation, and education about healthy lifestyles throughout life, in addition to aggressive control of risk factors in high-risk individuals, is likely to have the greatest impact.

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  • Duncan J Campbell

  • St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research and Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Fitzroy, VIC.

Correspondence: 

Acknowledgements: 

The author has received a Career Development Fellowship from the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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