The Burden of Chronic Heart Failure in Primary Care in Italy

High Blood Press Cardiovasc Prev. 2017 Jun;24(2):171-178. doi: 10.1007/s40292-017-0193-4. Epub 2017 Mar 21.


Introduction: Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a major public health concern. From a public health perspective, the epidemiology of CHF needs to be distinguished from that of its related acute form. Data stemming from primary care are crucial to better know and update the prevalence and incidence rates of CHF.

Aim: To update the epidemiology of CHF in an Italian primary care setting and to describe socio-demographic, lifestyle, and clinical characteristics of these patients.

Methods: A population-based study was conducted among 800 Italian general practitioners collecting data in a dedicated database. Information was extracted from adult subjects with a diagnosis of CHF from 2002 to 2013, and the prevalence and incidence rate of CHF were calculated. The study population was described in terms of socio-demographic, lifestyle, and clinical characteristics.

Results: A total of 13,633 patients with CHF were identified. Overall, the prevalence of CHF was 1.25% (95% CI 1.23-1.27), and the incidence rate was 1.99 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 1.81-2.08). In this population, smoking, alcohol use, and obesity were present in 2.93, 0.45, and 10.80% of cases, respectively. Hypertension (58.40%), chronic kidney disease (51.36%), dyslipidaemia (44.62%), ischaemic heart disease (25.75%), and atrial fibrillation (25.32%) were the most represented comorbidities.

Conclusion: This study provides an updated epidemiological scenario of CHF in a primary care setting in Italy. These data may be useful to weight the social and economic impact of CHF and to plan strategies for improving the clinical care of CHF in general practice.

Keywords: Chronic heart failure; Epidemiology; Italy; Primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Heart Failure / therapy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult