Background: Setting priorities for the prevention and management of heart failure requires an empirical understanding of the pattern of disease burden. We aim to describe the methods for a systematic review of the literature on burden of heart failure in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and how this information will be synthesized to produce useful estimates that can inform policy and practice.
Methods: We will conduct a comprehensive search strategy for articles published between 1995 and April 2012 related to incidence, prevalence and treatment of heart failure in LMIC. Populations will be coded as urban, rural, or combined and studies classified as national, sub-national, healthcare system-based, or community level. Details from eligible studies will be extracted independently by two reviewers using a pre-designed data extraction form that will cover information on demographics, diagnostic criteria including disease incidence and prevalence, medical history, medication history, and hospital- or community-based management and outcomes. We will assess the reporting and methodological quality of the included studies and conduct a quantitative summary of reported outcomes where appropriate.
Discussion: Currently, there are important gaps in our knowledge on the burden of heart failure in LMIC and this systematic review aims to provide useful information that improves our knowledge in this field. Results are expected to be publicly available in early 2013.