Heart failure more fatal than common cancers

Primary care database study, separated by gender, is the first of its kind to compare survival of rates for these conditions

A study led by Keele University, in collaboration with the Universities of Aberdeen and Manchester, shows that men and women suffering from heart failure have a higher risk of death than people with most common types of cancer.

For men, the four most common cancers are prostate, lung, colorectal, and bladder; while for women, they are breast, colorectal, lung, and ovarian.

Despite advances in healthcare, the study showed that heart failure remains as life-threatening as the most common forms of cancer, in both men and women.

The study

Anonymised data was collected between 2000 and 2011 from 393 general practices in Scotland. The dataset included patient information for approximately a third of the Scottish population and represented a mixture of age and gender, as well a range of people geographically and economically.

Diagnoses of cancer and heart failure were at similar ages in men, but women typically experienced heart failure later in life.

Only 5.5% of either gender suffering from heart failure did not have another disease as well, compared to 20–38% of cancer patients.

The type of study

Professor Phyo Kyaw Myint, University of Aberdeen, said: “Older patients with heart failure also have other co-morbid diseases,and therefore understanding of outcome in this patient group is important for clinicians.”

“This study also reminds us that observational studies are important in clinical research because clinical trials do not include the typical older people we manage in day to day clinical practice.”

Matt Sperrin, Health eResearch Centre at The University of Manchester, said: “This study highlights how anonymised data from general practices can be used to uncover evidence that helps us understand how patients can be best managed.”

“The comparison will hopefully highlight the potential impact of heart failure to the public, who can take proactive steps to prevent it.”