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Heart failure in the elderly set to triple by 2060

Public Health
Health Policy
Cardiovascular Disease in the Elderly
Heart Failure

Rome, Italy – 28 Aug 2016: Heart failure in the elderly is set to triple by 2060, according to new data from the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES) - Reykjavík study presented at ESC Congress 2016 today.(1)

“Heart failure is a common condition worldwide and increases with age,” said lead author Professor Ragnar Danielsen, a cardiologist at Landspitali University Hospital in Reykjavik, Iceland. “Various disorders can cause heart failure, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. As these are more prevalent with age the consequence is an increased population of elderly who may develop heart failure.”

The AGES-Reykjavík study began in 2002 as a collaboration between the National Institute on Aging in the United States and the Icelandic Heart Association. The current analysis included data from 5706 randomly selected elderly participants who represented the total population of Iceland. The investigators used official government data from Statistics Iceland on the current size, sex and age distribution of the national population and its predictions up to 2060.

Combining these data, the study assessed the prevalence of heart failure in the elderly population and sought to predict the number of elderly people likely to have heart failure in the future.

Participants’ age ranged from 66 to 98 years, the mean age being 77 years, and 58% were men. The prevalence of heart failure was 3.7% in the sexes combined, but it was higher in men, 4.8%, compared to 2.8% in women. The prevalence of heart failure increased with age, from 1.9% in those 69 years of age or younger, to 6% in those 80 years of age and older (see table).

The prevalence (%) of heart failure according to age groups and gender

Age groups Both sexes Men Women
≤ 69 years 1.9 3.7 0.9
70-79 years 2.5 3.5 1.3
≥ 80 years 6.0 7.4 5.0


The number of elderly people according to age groups was estimated for the coming decades in both men and women, until 2060 (Figure 1). The largest increases will be in the age groups 70 to 79 years and 80 years and older and predominantly in women.

Figure 1. Predicted numbers of elderly people according to age groups until 2060

A calculation based on the predicted age distribution and increase in the number of elderly people 70 years and older in the coming decades demonstrates that patients with heart failure will have increased 2.3 fold by the year 2040 and 2.9 times by the year 2060 (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Predicted relative increase in heart failure in individuals 70 years and older

Professor Danielsen said: “This study predicts that heart failure in the elderly will more than double by 2040 and triple by 2060. In the coming decades the majority of heart failure patients will be elderly individuals and this will have major health-economical consequences.”

He concluded: “The findings are a wake-up call for policy makers and healthcare providers that more needs to be done to prevent heart failure. This includes giving prompt treatment for heart attacks and encouraging adherence to preventative therapies and lifestyle changes afterwards.”



(1)Professor Ragnar Danielsen will present the abstract “Heart failure in the elderly and predictions for the future: The AGES-Reykjavik Study” during:

Notes to editor

Sources of funding: The AGES Reykjavik study was funded by NIH contract N01-AG-1-2100, the NIA Intramural Research Program, Hjartavernd (the Icelandic Heart Association), and the Althingi (the Icelandic Parliament).

Disclosures: None

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About the European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology brings together health care professionals from more than 120 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

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This press release accompanies both a presentation and an ESC press conference at the ESC Congress 2016. Edited by the ESC from material supplied by the investigators themselves, this press release does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology. The content of the press release has been approved by the presenter.