Heart Failure in Canada
In Canada, an estimated 750,000 people live with heart failure.
Heart failure (HF) occurs when the heart does not function normally or when its structure is altered. In Canada, HF is not only one of the leading cause of hospitalization for people over the age of 65, but will affect one in five adults during their lifetime (1). In the developed world, this proportion will increase significantly due to aging populations and rising rates of obesity and diabetes, placing an additional burden on our healthcare systems. In addition to significant morbidity, HF carries a grave prognosis, with a 5-year mortality of 50% , a prognosis comparable to the most aggressive cancers.
“Although we have some treatments to prevent death from heart failure, we are still losing too many of our patients. We need a national approach to the prediction, prevention, diagnosis and management of heart failure for the benefit of all Canadians”
– Dr. Jean L. Rouleau
Despite recent advances in our understanding of the causes of heart failure and the development of new therapies, patient outcomes and quality of life remain poor. Early diagnosis and patient empowerment are inadequate, and low rates of adoption of proven therapies and poor access to care are barriers to improving outcomes. A better understanding of the factors that lead to progression from HF risk factors to death will benefit all Canadians. While more than 70% of Canadians live in or near urban centres, only 10% of Canadians have access to specialized centres with heart function clinics that provide high quality care, and many Canadians live in rural and remote areas with even poorer access. Timely diagnosis remains a challenge for all patients, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis patients, as more than 50% of initial diagnoses of HF are made late and only when people present to the emergency department during an episode of acute decompensation. If these cases were diagnosed earlier, improvement and even recovery of cardiac function may occur and lead to better outcomes. In pediatric and adolescent patients, cardiomyopathy and congenital heart diseases remain the leading causes of HF in children, with no pediatric-specific therapies or medication proven effective in this setting.
1. All Stats from Heart and Stroke Foundation