Aims: Little is known regarding temporal trends in mortality attributed to heart failure (HF) from a population perspective. The aim of this study was to assess the mortality related to HF as an underlying cause during the last 20 years in seven European countries.
Methods and results: The number of deaths with HF as the underlying cause was collected in seven European states: Germany, Greece, England and Wales, Spain, France, Finland, and Sweden from 1987 to 2008. Disease coding for HF was based on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 9th and 10th versions). We computed age-standardized death rates (SDRs) per 100 000 inhabitants. Mean age at death from HF was also calculated for the same period. In the seven studied countries, the HF SDR decreased continuously from 54.2 (1987) to 32.6 (2008). Despite differences in the early 1990s, SDRs related to HF seemed to converge, in these seven European countries, to ∼30 deaths per 100 000 population in the near future, for both men and women. During the study period, the mean age at death increased from 80.0 to 82.7 years. Half of the deaths from HF occurred in hospital, without change over time.
Conclusion: There has been a 40% reduction of the SDR due to HF in seven European countries during two decades and a concomitant increase in the mean age at death from HF. We hypothesize that these results may be related to a better management of chronic and acute HF patients over the past 20 years.