More young Americans die from heart failure, study finds

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Scientists from Duke University found a growing number of younger American adults are dying of heart failure.

The research is published in JAMA Cardiology and was conducted by Dr. Muhammad Shahzeb Khan et al.

Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart muscle cannot pump blood as well as it should, leading to symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness, and swelling in the legs.

The condition is treatable, but it can prove deadly if it progresses to a severe stage.

Previous research has found that while heart failure is usually diagnosed in older people, it can strike young adults—particularly if they have risk factors like obesity and diabetes.

In this study, the team examined death certificate information from a federal research database.

They found that heart failure deaths among Americans younger than 45 have been on the rise since 2012.

Between 1999 and 2019, there were nearly 62,000 deaths related to heart failure among Americans ages 15 to 44. Men accounted for the majority, at 62%.

They also found a clear racial disparity: Young Black adults consistently had a threefold higher death rate than both white and Hispanic Americans their age.

Throughout the 20-year period, the toll was greatest among Black Americans—who accounted for 36% of all deaths.

By 2019, their death rate was nearly nine per 100,000—over three times that of white and Hispanic people their age.

The study also found wide variation among states. The Southeast had some of the highest heart failure death rates, reaching eight deaths per 100,000 in Mississippi. That compared with rates under two per 100,000 in all Northeastern states.

The reasons for the rising heart failure are unclear, but increasing rates of obesity and diabetes could contribute to it.

The team says younger people may miss the chance to have high blood pressure or diabetes diagnosed and treated early, and that could be a particular barrier for young Black Americans.

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