SINGAPORE: Heart failure is striking Asians at a younger age.
This finding comes from preliminary results of a survey conducted by the National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS).
It revealed that the average age of patients with heart failure in Asia is 60 -- a decade younger than their western counterparts.
This is even though Asians tend to have lower a Body Mass Index (BMI).
Associate Professor Carolyn Lam, the principal investigator of the study, explained: "It's easy to sort of say that we're not taking care of ourselves enough or that we have risk factors and we're ignoring them.
“Of course those seem to be the more potential reasons but there could be others, just to be fair to our patients; there could be genetic predispositions as well, or things that we don't quite understand.
“So, this is the area we are focusing intense efforts at researching right now."
But within Asia itself, there are variations.
The results revealed that heart failure patients in Singapore and Malaysia have a higher rate of diabetes and hypertension than those in other countries.
"The rates of diabetes are strikingly high among patients from Singapore and Malaysia -- affecting almost 60 per cent of patients in Singapore and almost 50 per cent of those from Malaysia, compared to only 33 per cent of patients in Europe,” said Assoc Prof Lam.
The researchers hope these findings will result in even earlier diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.
"It was really quite frightening when we found that heart failure strikes Asians a decade or more earlier than Americans or Europeans,” said Assoc Prof Lam. “Heart failure is now recognised as a staged disease where we have earlier stages that can be treated, so they can prevent progression.”
She added: "The five year survival rate in patients with heart failure is only about 32 per cent but advances in treatment have been shown to improve survival."
The findings involve more than 2,000 patients from 11 Asian countries, including Singapore but the multinational study hopes to look at a total of 8,000 heart failure patients.
The World Health Organization has projected that the largest increase in cardiovascular diseases worldwide is occurring in Asia, due to rapidly increasing rates of smoking, obesity, dyslipidemia and diabetes among Asians.
NUHCS predicts heart failure cases to reach epidemic proportions in Asia.
It hopes the study will help doctors understand what Asian patients are dying from and whether some of these deaths may be prevented as there are knowledge gaps regarding disease burden, treatment patterns and barriers to therapy and outcomes in Asian patients with heart failure. - CNA/rw
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