The incidence of heart failure increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, among the U.S. residents who have heart failure, 70 percent are 60 years of age or older. In 2000, approximately 12.7 percent of the American population was 65 years of age or older. It is estimated that in 2020, 16.5 percent will be in this age group. Since the American Heart Association estimates that about 1 percent of all people over the age of 65 has heart failure, a significant increase in the prevalence of heart failure is expected in coming years.
Ironically, another factor that has resulted in an increase in the number of people living with heart failure is success in the treatment of heart attacks. More effective treatments have resulted in improved rates of survival following heart attacks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 20 percent of men will develop heart failure within six years of having a heart attack. An even higher percentage (more than 40 percent) of women will suffer from heart failure within that period of time after having a heart attack.
Together, the aging of the U.S. population and an improved medical outlook for heart attack victims account for the approximate threefold increase in the yearly incidence of heart failure that has been observed over the past 10 years.
These factors will also increase the economic impact of heart failure. This is true even though survival of patients with heart failure has improved due to treatment with heart medications.