Heart failure and stroke a lethal combination

Heart failure and stroke have been described as a lethal combination by researchers.

According to their findings, heart failure patients who have previously suffered a stroke have a significantly increased risk of suffering with depression than those without a history of stroke. They are also much more likely to require hospitalisation and have an increased risk of death.

The researchers from Australia looked at more than 1,000 adults who had been hospitalised for heart failure. Of these, around 10% had suffered a previous stroke. All were monitored over a three-year period.

The study found that heart failure patients who had a history of stroke fared much worse than those with heart failure alone across all outcomes and at all points in time over the three years.

After 18 months, those with both heart failure and a history of stroke were up to twice as likely to require hospitalisation. They were also up to two times more likely to die than those with heart failure alone.

After taking into account factors that could influence the results, such as age, the severity of heart failure and type 2 diabetes, those with both heart failure and a history of stroke were still almost 60% more likely to be hospitalised or to die compared to those with heart failure alone.

After three years, they were 56% more likely to die than those with heart failure alone. Overall, patients with both conditions died an average of five months earlier than those with just heart failure.

Meanwhile, a year after discharge from hospital, those with both conditions were twice as likely to be depressed as those with heart failure alone.

"Our study shows that having both heart failure and stroke places patients at twice the risk than if they only had one of the diseases. These patients had to be able to travel to hospital to participate in the research, which means that they had recovered from their stroke or only had mild disabilities. Those with severe stroke might have even worse outcomes," noted Dr Chantal Ski of Melbourne University.

She pointed out that while stroke is common in people with heart failure, until now, little was known about the characteristics and outcomes of this population.

"Both are complex and debilitating diseases so it seems likely that patients experiencing both will do worse, but there is no evidence base to help guide clinical practice.

"The increased risks we observed in patients with both conditions could be because they did not receive optimal management or education on how to self-manage both conditions simultaneously," Dr Ski added.

Details of these findings were presented at the latest congress of the European Society of Cardiology, EuroHeartCare 2017, in Sweden.

 

[Posted: Tue 23/05/2017]


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