Why are Younger Adults Dying of Heart Failure?


Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, was always thought to be a disease of the old and sick. But a recent report published by the medical journal from the American College of Cardiology says heart failure is rising in people under 65 years of age.

The study shows that death rates are increasing for adults between 35 and 64 years old. The rates are even higher for African Americans.

Dr. Deepthi Mosali, Heart Failure Specialist with the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute says, “This increase is likely due to a rising prevalence of the risk factors including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, sedentary lifestyles and poor lifestyle choices.”

Dr. Brian Hardaway with the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Clinic at Mayo Clinic, notes, “The mortality rate for African Americans is startling. Black men under 65 are twice as likely to die from heart failure as white males. Black women are three times more likely to die than white women.”

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is when your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs either because the heart is stiffer and bulkier and unable to pump blood efficiently or the heart is weak and damaged and unable to pump blood adequately.

Certain medical conditions and lifestyle behaviors can increase your risk for heart failure, including:

  • Abnormal heart valves.
  • Congenital heart disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy).
  • Heart attack.
  • Blocked arteries in your heart.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Infection.
  • Obesity.
  • Certain genetic conditions.
  • Substance abuse such as alcohol, cocaine or amphetamines.
  • Poor diet and lack of exercise.
  • Tobacco use.

How Do You Prevent Heart Failure?

“Prevention is the key for heart failure,” says Dr. Mosali. “There are lifestyle changes that can be made to lower your risk factor for the disease.”

To prevent death from heart failure, Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Live a healthy lifestyle including maintaining a healthy weight, daily exercise, healthy diet and no tobacco use.
  • Manage your diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol with the help of a doctor.
  • Understand the disease and your risk factors, including family history. If you recognize signs or symptoms, see your cardiologist right away.
  • Take your medications and follow your doctor’s instructions.

If you have questions about heart failure, join us at a free educational session, Turning Heart Failure into Heart Success, featuring Dr. Mosali and Dr. Hardaway, 6 – 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 12. This event will be held at the St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center, 3861 Olympic Blvd., Erlanger, KY 41018. Register online or call 859-301-WELL (9355).

St. Elizabeth Healthcare is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. This relationship provides us with access to information, knowledge and expertise from Mayo Clinic – the No. 1 hospital in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. Learn more about our relationship.