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Advanced Heart Failure Still Kills 1 in 3 Within Three Years: Study
Date:5/30/2013

THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with advanced heart failure have much better survival odds today than 20 years ago, but one in three still dies within three years of their diagnosis, researchers report.

"We are doing a good job of ensuring that patients receive the latest therapies for heart failure, but we still have a lot more work to do," study senior author Dr. Tamara Horwich, an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, said in a UCLA news release.

"It is very sobering that despite recent improvements, a third of advanced heart-failure patients aren't surviving past three years," Horwich added.

In people with heart failure, the heart can't effectively pump blood to the rest of the body. The increasingly common condition affects almost 6 million people in the United States.

For the study, published in the May issue of Circulation: Heart Failure, the researchers examined outcomes in more than 2,500 adults diagnosed with "heart failure with reduced ejection fraction," which is characterized by a weak heart muscle.

The patients were divided into three groups based on when they were treated: 1993 through 1998; 1999 through 2004; and 2005 through 2010. The researchers followed the patients for three years after they were diagnosed.

The study revealed dramatic differences. Patients treated from 1999 on were more likely to receive life-extending drugs, such as beta-blockers and aldosterone antagonists, as well as devices to help stabilize irregular heart rhythms, such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Whereas just 15.5 percent of patients used beta-blockers from 1993 to 1998, more than 87 percent used them between 2005 and 2010, the study pointed out.

The increased use of these treatments coincided with publication of the results of clinical trials, and the development of treatment guidelines, t
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