TIME Heart Disease

U.S. Heart Failure-Related Deaths Up Slightly

Whether the increase is meaningful remains to be seen

The number of heart failure-related deaths in the United States has increased since 2012, according to new federal data.

In a new study released on Thursday, researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) said that the age-adjusted rate for heart failure-related deaths declined from 2000 through 2012, but that the rate has gone up from 2012 through 2014. The reason for the increase remains unknown, and the study authors say it’s unclear whether the rise is meaningful or a random fluctuation.

“It’s worth paying attention to, and to keep monitoring it,” said study author Hanyu Ni, an Associate Director for Science at NCHS’s Division of Vital Statistics. Ni said the findings are important due to size of America’s aging population and the fact that more people are living with heart failure.

The report, which used heart failure-related mortality data from 2000 through 2014, also found that the heart failure death rate is higher among the non-Hispanic black population compared to Hispanic populations and non-Hispanic whites. Overall, men were more likely to die of heart failure compared to women. Also of note, the percent of heart failure-related deaths that happened in hospitals and nursing homes declined from 200o to 2014. Deaths from heart failure were more likely to occur at home and other places. Where people die from heart failure is valuable for understanding where people are receiving care at the end of their life, the study authors write.

For adults age 45 and older, the researchers found that the underlying cause of heart failure-related deaths was less likely to be coronary heart disease in 2014 compared to 2000. It was more likely to be caused by other types of heart disease or other diseases like cancer and diabetes. “This finding is important for heart failure management approaches,” the researchers said.

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