Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Increase in Heart Failure Cases in U.S.

When a person’s heart experiences a shortage of oxygen, resulting from an enlarged heart’s inability to pump blood to the organs adequately enough, that person is experiencing heart failure. About 660,000 patients are diagnosed with heart failure each year, some of which result in death when left untreated. In the past 30 years, the number of senior citizens presenting to the nation’s hospitals with heart failure has more than doubled, an increase that researchers expect to continue unless something is done. In addition to that, as the baby boomers reach 65 and join the senior citizen category, there will more likely than not be an increase in the number of heart failure cases, simply because there will be more seniors. These statistics were compiled from the medical records or more than 2 million seniors (65+) in the U.S. between 1980 and 2006. Researchers compared the discharged information of these patients with census population data, reporting that in 1980, there were 348,866 heart failure cases, which rose a staggering 131 percent to 807,082 in 2006. In addition, the risk of being hospitalized for heart failure doubled in seniors age 75 to 84 when compared with those age 65 to 74. In people over age 85, that risk of heart failure hospitalization was fourfold that of the 65 to 74 group.

The study was led by an associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia and was presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans. The study noted that as heart failure hospitalization rates have increased over the past three decades, hospitalization rates for stroke and coronary artery disease have been declining since the mid-eighties. As for the cost associated with hospitalizations and other treatments for heart failure, the American Heart Association estimated this year alone, that figure will reach nearly $35 billion in the U.S.

High blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity and diabetes may all increase a person’s chances of heart failure, so it is crucial to treat these health problems promptly and completely. Other factors, including smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise may all increase a person’s risk of heart failure. In most cases, doctors are able to treat heart failure by administering drugs that expand the arteries and veins, allowing the heart to pump blood to the organs more easily. Doctors may also use beta-blockers, which slow a person’s heart rate, control their blood pressure and open up vessels to improve blood flow. Another treatment for heart failure which is used less often by doctors is CRT (cardiac resynchronization therapy). This treatment helps the heart get back into its appropriate rhythm with the help of a pacemaker, which coordinates the beating of the right and left ventricles of the heart.

Heart failure is a potentially deadly health problem, especially if left untreated or if treated incorrectly by a doctor or hospital. If you or a loved one has medical malpractice questions in New York, please contact Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, serving clients with Nassau and Suffolk County medical malpractice, Brooklyn medical malpractice, Bronx medical malpractice and Queens medical malpractice cases. Silberstein, Awad & Miklos also serve clients located in Staten Island and Westchester County.

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