Men and women with heart failure have a higher risk of death than people with some of the most common types of cancer, according to a new UK study.
The research, led by Keele University in collaboration with the universities of Aberdeen and Manchester, was based on patient data from nearly 400 general practices in Scotland – roughly a third of the county’s population.
“Heart failure remains as malignant as many of the common cancers”
The anonymised data, collected between 2000 and 2011, was used to compare survival rates for heart failure with those for the four most common types of cancer in men and the four most common types among women.
The study, published in the European Journal of Heart Failure, found five-year survival rates among female heart failure patients were 49.5% – much worse than the survival rate for breast cancer at 77.7%.
However, those with heart failure had a better chance of surviving past five years than women diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 51.5%, ovarian cancer at 38.2%, and lung cancer at 10.4%.
Men with heart failure had a 55.8% five-year survival rate and worse mortality outcomes than those with prostate cancer at 68.3% and bladder cancer at 57.3%.
But they had better chances than men diagnosed with colorectal cancer, who had a survival rate of 48.9% and those with lung cancer at just 8.4%.
The study found diagnoses of cancer and heart failure generally happened at similar ages in men, but women typically experienced heart failure later in life.
Only a small proportion of either gender suffering from heart failure – just 5.5% – did not have another disease as well, compared to 20-38% of cancer patients.
Heart failure mortality risk ‘worse than for some cancers’
The authors said the findings heart failure was as life-threatening as common forms of cancer, in both men and women.
“Our study shows that despite advances in the treatment of heart failure with newer drugs and devices, mortality rates remain significant and heart failure remains as malignant as many of the common cancers,” said lead author Professor Mamas Mamas, professor of Cardiology at Keele and consultant cardiologist at University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust.
Matt Sperrin, from the Health eResearch Centre at The University of Manchester, said he hoped the study would help raise awareness of the potentially devastating impact of heart disease.
“The comparison will hopefully highlight the potential impact of heart failure to the public, who can take proactive steps to prevent it,” he added.