Heart failure could be as deadly as cancer

A new study from Europe evaluated whether survival rates for patients with heart failure are better than those with common cancers—and the results were comparable.

This is the first study to compare survival outcomes among heart failure and cancer patients in primary care settings. It was published in the European Journal of Heart Failure. The research was led by Mamas A. Mamas, a professor of cardiology at Keele University in England.

“The adverse outcomes associated with heart failure have drawn comparisons with those of cancer amongst many commentators, including international cardiological societies,” the authors wrote in the study.

Researchers gathered data from the Primary Care Clinical Informatics Unit, a database of 1.75 million people who are registered with more than 390 general practices in Scotland. Of them, about 56,000 were eligible for the study.

Results showed that in men, heart failure was associated with higher mortality rates than in patients with prostate and bladder cancer, but lower when compared to lung and colorectal cancer.

In women, heart failure was associated with worse mortality outcomes than breast cancer, but better when compared to colorectal, lung and ovarian cancer. The findings suggest that heart failure could be just as deadly as cancer, something the cardiology community should be aware of as they work to prevent and treat the disease, the authors said.

“Despite advances in care, we found that men and women with a diagnosis of heart failure continue to have worse survival than patients with one of several common cancers,” the authors wrote. “Our findings are particularly relevant given that the current analysis overcomes many of the limitations of previous work, particularly in relation to admission bias for different conditions and differences in co-morbid burden between patients with heart failure and those with cancer.”