Uncovering a hidden epidemic: a study of the current burden of heart failure in Australia

Heart Lung Circ. 2004 Sep;13(3):266-73. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2004.06.007.


Background: Australia, like other countries, is experiencing an epidemic of heart failure (HF). However, given the lack of national and population-based datasets collating detailed cardiovascular-specific morbidity and mortality outcomes, quantifying the specific burden imposed by HF has been difficult.

Methods: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS data) for the year 2000 were used in combination with contemporary, well-validated population-based epidemiologic data to estimate the number of individuals with symptomatic and asymptomatic HF related to both preserved (diastolic dysfunction) and impaired left ventricular systolic (dys)function (LVSD) and rates of HF-related hospitalisation.

Results: In 2000, we estimate that around 325,000 Australians (58% male) had symptomatic HF associated with both LVSD and diastolic dysfunction and an additional 214,000 with asymptomatic LVSD. 140,000 (26%) live in rural and remote regions, distal to specialist health care services. There was an estimated 22,000 incidents of admissions for congestive heart failure and approximately 100,000 admissions associated with this syndrome overall.

Conclusion: Australia is in the midst of a HF epidemic that continues to grow. Overall, it probably contributes to over 1.4 million days of hospitalization at a cost of more than 1 billion dollars. A national response to further quantify and address this enormous health problem is required.