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Heart Failure Is Emerging Challenge in South Africa

In Soweto, patients tend to be younger and female, and many have right heart failure

TUESDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) -- In the predominantly black South African community of Soweto, heart failure is an increasing and complex problem that predominantly affects younger residents and women, according to a report published online Nov. 24 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Simon Stewart, Ph.D., of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and colleagues analyzed demographic and clinical data from 844 new cases of heart failure diagnosed in 2006.

The researchers found that the patients had a mean age of 55 and that women accounted for 479 (57 percent) of the cases. They also found that the two most common diagnoses were hypertensive heart failure (33 percent) and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (28 percent), and were surprised to find that the third most common diagnosis was right heart failure (27 percent).

"Although the current burden of heart failure in Soweto does not (yet) resemble that found in high-income countries, we have highlighted the emerging challenge of dealing with an expected rise of heart failure on the continent (particularly in relation to early prevention and treatment strategies)," the authors conclude. "The complexity of cases has forced us to more critically examine case classifications beyond that typically reported. Ultimately, these data challenge us to recognize and respond to heart failure in Africa by recognizing unique aspects concerning its natural history (particularly antecedent hypertension and a major component of right heart failure) and the need for culturally sensitive interventions."

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