Risk of dying from heart failure bigger than breast cancer

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A woman diagnosed with heart failure has an 82 per cent higher chance of dying of the disease than another diagnosed with breast cancer, Scottish research shows.

The database study published today in the European Journal of Heart Failure also found that, five years post-diagnosis, men diagnosed with heart failure had 64 per cent greater risk of dying as a result than men diagnosed with prostate cancer and a 14 per cent greater risk of dying of the disease than those diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Data was collected from more than 56,000 people between 2000 and 2011 from 393 general practices in Scotland and this is the first study of its kind to compare the effects of heart failure and cancer in the primary care setting for men and women separately.

The data was drawn from the source which included patient information for a third of the Scottish population and represented a mixture of age, gender and socioeconomic status.

It is common for those with heart failure to have a “co-morbid” illness and in this study only 5.5 per cent of those with heart failure did not have another disease, compared to 20-38 per cent of cancer patients.

The results of the study suggest successful treatment of heart failure should also consider treating the secondary illness.

Professor Phyo Kyaw Myint of the University of Aberdeen said: “People diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than those with heart failure, so you might argue they die because they are a bit older. Heart failure management is probably more difficult because you are dealing with older people with chronic diseases and heart failure could have other consequences.

“Patients with heart failure also have other co-morbid diseases, and understanding of outcome in this patient group is important. This study also reminds us observational studies are important because clinical trials do not include the typical older people we manage in clinical practice.”

The research was carried out by the University of Aberdeen in collaboration with the Universities of Keele, Manchester and East Anglia.

Professor Mamas Mamas, of Keele University, said: “Our study shows despite advances in treatment of heart failure with newer drugs, mortality rates remain significant and heart failure remains as malignant as many of the ­common cancers.”