The survey of more than 3,000 Americans revealed a significant gap in awareness of what heart failure is and an understanding of how the disease can be managed.
More than six million Americans are currently living with the disease, which now accounts for more hospitalizations than all forms of cancer combined and costs the U.S. an estimated $30.7 billion each year, the company said.
Survey data also revealed:
- While more than 50% of people understand that heart failure can be controlled if identified early, only one in five respondents could correctly identify the majority of heart failure symptoms.
- 65% of survey respondents said they wish they knew more about heart failure, but only one in five is likely to speak to their primary care physician because they are afraid of what it might mean. The same ratio believes that only a cardiologist can diagnose the condition.
- Most people don’t think heart failure will affect them or their family; however, every two in five Americans are either affected by heart failure or know someone who is.
“These survey results are a wake-up call for Americans to start talking about the signs and risk factors of heart failure,” Dr. Philip B. Adamson medical director for Abbott’s heart failure business, said in a news release. “Millions of people — far too many families — are impacted by this condition and don’t realize an earlier diagnosis can allow for more effective treatment options.”
Survey results suggest concerted efforts to educate minority communities about their risk of developing heart failure are working. Hispanic and African American respondents were significantly more likely to recognize that they are at a higher risk for developing heart failure. The incidence of heart failure is 4.6 per 1,000 persons in African American communities, 3.5 in Hispanics and 2.4 in Caucasians.
But those same groups are not any more likely to accurately identify symptoms or know what to do if they were experiencing heart failure. The survey showed that:
- Only 25% of African American and Hispanic respondents said they would quickly recognize if they were experiencing heart failure.
- Just 31% of African American respondents and 33% of Hispanic respondents said they would know what to do if they thought they were experiencing heart failure.
- There is also evidence that suggests a need to continue awareness efforts among other at-risk groups, including men, pregnant women and cancer patients.
“We learned that 45% of survey-takers believe that a cardiologist has to diagnose heart failure,” said Dr. Adamson. “Your first conversation about heart failure doesn’t have to be with a cardiologist or heart failure specialist. Heart failure is a topic you can — and should — bring up to your primary care doctor.”
The company has created a website to help people talk with their doctor about symptoms, risk factors and treatment options.
The survey was conducted in March 2019 among a sample of 3,000 U.S. residents ages 18 and older who are representative of national census demographics. As to not bias the data, Abbott was not revealed as the sponsor.