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November 20, 2013

The Challenge of Treating Heart FailureA Diverse Disease Affecting Diverse Populations

Author Affiliations
  • 1Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia
JAMA. 2013;310(19):2033-2034. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.282773

Heart failure affects nearly 6 million people in the United States alone,1 and the prevalence has reached alarming proportions. It is estimated that approximately 2% of Americans have heart failure, and 35% of cardiovascular deaths are directly related to heart failure.1 The costs for treating patients with heart failure now approach $32 billion annually.2 Successful and significant advances have been made in the treatment strategies for heart failure. Pharmacologic therapy includes agents such as β-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and aldosterone antagonists. Further advances in cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), cardiac transplantation, and mechanical circulatory support have provided additional options for patients with this debilitating and frequently fatal chronic illness. However, an important question is whether all patients are being afforded the same advantages of current treatment approaches. Are there groups of patients, as defined by sex, race, and ethnicity, being left behind?

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