Heart failure is very common. It affects about 6.2 million adults over the age of 20 in the United States, according to statistics collected between 2015 and 2018. It’s estimated there are nearly 1 million new cases annually.

The five-year survival rate of heart failure is 52.6%. Although this rate improved steadily between 1970 and 2000, it didn’t grow significantly between 2000 and 2010.

This article highlights the key facts and statistics you should know about heart failure.

Heart failure overview

heart failure
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Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, arises when the heart isn’t able to pump enough blood to the body. Affecting one or both sides of the heart, this serious, incurable condition is most often caused by other heart conditions and diseases, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure, and diabetes, among others.

Heart failure isn’t the same as cardiac arrest, which is when your heart stops beating. While it can lead to cardiac arrest, among other complications, the heart is still working. Heart failure, heart attack, and coronary artery disease are types of heart disease.

How common is heart failure?

Heart failure is widespread in the United States, with the number of those affected expected to rise due to an ageing population. Here are some key facts highlighting the scope of this condition as well as expected trends:

  • Heart failure is estimated to affect between 18 and 21 of every 1,000 people in the United States.
  • In 2018, heart failure was diagnosed in 1.25 million discharges from US hospitals.
  • The number of those diagnosed with heart failure is expected to rise 46% from 2012 to 2030, from 5.7 million to 8 million, or nearly 3 in 100 US adults.
  • There are about 960,000 newly diagnosed cases in the United States every year.
  • The proportion of new cases in the United States fell from 3.2 to 2.2 for every 1,000 people between 2000 and 2010; however, the total number of new cases continues to grow.
  • It’s projected that about 7.6 million Americans will be affected by heart failure by 2025, compared to 6.2 million in 2017, a 20% increase.
  • In 2019, heart disease was mentioned as the cause of death on 1 in 8 death certificates.
  • The chance of receiving a diagnosis of heart failure at age 40 is 1 in 5 and will increase as you age.

Heart failure by ethnicity

heart failure
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Overall, heart failure affects about 2 of every 100 people in the United States. However, this number varies based on ethnicity and race. Here’s a quick breakdown of these differences for adults over 20 years old:

  • Black Americans: 35 (males) to 39 (females) out of 1,000
  • Hispanic Americans: 20 (females) to 25 (males) out of 1,000
  • White Americans: 19 (females) to 22 (males) out of 1,000
  • Asian Americans: 7 (females) to 17 (males) out of 1,000

Heart failure by age & gender

As you age, the chances of developing heart failure increase. Adults over 60 are 20 times as likely to experience this condition as younger adults, and 81% of cases are seen in this population.

In addition, cisgender men are generally more likely than cisgender women to have heart failure, though rates of new cases are slightly higher among women. While the relative rates between men and women are stable—and align for ages 80 and over—they are significantly higher for men in their 60s and 70s than women in this age group.

The table below breaks down the rates of this condition based on age and gender.

 Age  Male  Female
 All ages  2.5%  1.7%
 20 to 39  0.3%  0.2%
 40 to 59  1.2%  1.7%
 60 to 79 6.9%  4.8%
 80 and above  12.8%  12%

Causes of Heart failure and risk factors

chest pain
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Heart failure is most often brought on by other health conditions, especially those that impact the cardiac muscles directly. The most common causes of this condition are:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart valve disorder, congenital defects
  • Cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscles)
  • Myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscles)
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Pulmonary hypertension (increased pressure within the lungs)

The following factors can raise a person’s incidence and prevalence of heart failure:

  • Being age 65 or older
  • Having a family history of heart failure
  • Being African American
  • Having obesity
  • Having sleep apnea (chronic breathing disorder in which you stop breathing repeatedly during sleep)
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle/lacking exercise
  • Having chronic diseases or infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), COVID-19, thyroid disease, and others

What are the mortality rates for heart failure?

The mortality rate of heart failure—the percentage of cases that cause death—is estimated to be about 10% one month following diagnosis. This number climbs to 22% at two years and to about 50% at five years.

Due to advances in care, the overall survival rate improved a great deal from 1950 to 1990, though survival rates have remained largely stable since.

The survival rate is the proportion of people diagnosed with a condition, such as heart failure, that survive after a specified period of time. Expressed in a couple of different ways, it’s a statistic that applies to broad groups of people. It doesn’t predict individual results or how effective a treatment will be.

The mortality rate rises when heart failure accompanies other conditions. Along with a history of heart attack or other cardiac problems, smoking, kidney disease, and diabetes impact overall survival rates.

In addition, there are differences in survival rates based on ethnicity, race, age, and gender. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Age: The mortality of heart failure increases as you age; those over age 65 represent over 90% of deaths attributed to the condition. Among Medicare patients, the survival rate at one year was found to be about 70%.
  • Sex: Studies have found that women with heart failure have better survival at 5 years than men, though fatality rates are similar at 30 days and 90 days.
  • Ethnicity/race: Though hospitalization for heart failure is higher among Black patients, this population has a higher survival rate at one year compared to Hispanic, non-Hispanic White, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native Americans. White patients have the highest mortality at this point.

Screening and early detection

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Because it initiates treatment and prevents complications, early detection and diagnosis improve outcomes for heart failure. Timely detection, medical treatment, and lifestyle changes can prevent an estimated 200,000 deaths a year in the United States due to stroke and heart disease, including heart failure.

Screening and early detection methods include:

  • Blood tests
  • Blood pressure tests
  • Cholesterol test

Abnormal levels of certain biomarkers in the blood indicate early stages of heart failure. Blood tests for early diabetes detection can also help improve heart outcomes. Those who detected diabetes and sought treatment early had 30% lower overall risk and experienced less serious cardiac events compared to those who had a three-year delay.

Checking blood pressure is the most important way to determine heart health. It’s estimated that the detection and management of high blood pressure can prevent 39.4 million deaths worldwide over 25 years. That’s an average of 1.58 million per year. Reductions in these levels, achievable with medications and lifestyle changes, are directly proportional to reductions in mortality.

Often asymptomatic, high cholesterol (especially high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol) is a common risk factor for heart failure. Detection is critical; with timely treatment of cholesterol issues, studies have found a 21% reduction in major cardiac events, which significantly reduces mortality.


Heart failure is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This condition, which can lead to heart attack, is more common among those over age 65 and can be brought on by other serious health conditions. With a survival rate of about 50% at five years, it’s a persistent and significant public health concern.

Early detection and treatment of this disease can considerably improve outcomes, so if you suspect you have heart failure or are experiencing symptoms, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

This story first appeared on www.verywellhealth.com

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