Who is affected by heart failure

The number of people who have heart failure is growing, especially in developed countries such as the United States. Two of the reasons for this growth are that people in general are living longer and people who already have heart failure are also living longer. The risk of heart failure rises as a person gets older. So more and more people are expected to have heart failure as the population gets older.

Facts about heart failure include:1

  • Over 5 million people in the United States have heart failure. Heart failure affects men and women about equally.
  • About 550,000 new cases of heart failure occur each year.
  • Over 1 million people in the United States are hospitalized each year for heart failure.
  • Heart failure affects nearly 10 out of 1,000 people after age 65.

Heart failure eventually occurs in almost all people with severe heart disease. When and how it appears depends on the type of heart disease present.

In the past, a person with heart disease would die at an earlier age, long before heart failure might develop. Today, better medical care and treatments mean that heart disease is being identified and treated earlier, extending the lives of millions of people. But those same people with heart disease who now live longer have increased chances of developing heart failure.


  1. American Heart Association (2008). Heart disease and stroke statistics—2008 update (At-A-Glance version). Available online: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3037327.

Last Updated: August 25, 2008

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