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Roundup: Heart Failure Deaths Rising; Alcohol-Related Liver Disease; and CDC Update on Pregnancy Linked Deaths

Deaths from Heart Failure Rising Among Younger U.S. Adults, Research Says

Fueled in part by the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, more U.S. adults are dying from heart failure, compared to just a decade ago, and this trend is sharply higher among middle-aged and young adults, a new study shows.

“Heart failure” refers to a condition in which the heart is too weak to pump blood through the body. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped beating. The heart keeps working, but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met.

Between 1999 and 2012, annual heart failure death rates dropped from 78.7 per 100,000 people to 53.7 per 100,000, the researchers found. But after 2012, a reversal occurred, with rates starting to climb, reaching 59.3 fatalities for every 100,000 people by the end of the study period. The findings were published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology [1].

Researchers examined data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on deaths from heart failure between 1999 and 2017 among adults 35 to 84 years old.

The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become narrowed by buildups of fatty deposits called plaque.

About 5.7 million adults in the United States have heart failure, says the CDC. Heart failure is more common in people who are obese or overweight. That’s because excess weight can put strain on the heart, and those who have a history of heart attack, among other risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.  About half of people who develop heart failure die within 5 years of diagnosis, the CDC says.

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Severe Alcohol-Related Liver Disease on the Rise

Cases of the deadliest type of alcohol-related liver disease appear to be increasing in the U.S., a new study finds.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association [4] reviewed data on more than 34,000 people. Researchers found that the prevalence of alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) with at least Stage 2 fibrosis jumped from 0.6 percent in 2001 to 1.5 percent in 2016. 

“This is a particularly concerning observation given that developing fibrosis is the strongest predictor of progression to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death,” the study states.

From 2000 to 2015, death rates for chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the United States increased 31 percent (from 20.1 per 100,000 to 26.4) among persons aged 45–64 years.

A major factor in the latest study’s finding of rising AFLD rates is binge drinking among younger adults, researchers said. 

While the overall cancer rate has been dropping since the early 1990s, the reverse is true for liver cancer. The latest data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) found that rates of new liver cancers are rising faster than for any other cancer. The death rate from liver cancer has increased by almost 3 percent per year since 2000.

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CDC: Most Pregnancy Related Deaths Can Be Prevented

About 700 die from pregnancy-related problems each year in the U.S., but the majority of these deaths are preventable, according to a new analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s report stresses “persistent racial disparities” in the risks faced by African-American women and American Indian/Alaska Native women, who are about three times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth.

“Pregnancy-related deaths occur during pregnancy, around the time of delivery, and within 1 year postpartum; leading causes of death vary by timing of death,” the CDC states. “Most pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented. Comprehensive review of pregnancy-related deaths can identify contributing factors and opportunities to implement strategies for preventing future deaths.”

Every year more than 50,000 U.S. women suffer serious complications related to childbirth. The new data, the CDC says, demonstrate the need to further review the multiple factors that contribute to pregnancy-related deaths during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum.

Overall, heart disease and stroke, fueled by high blood pressure, were the most common causes of the pregnancy-related deaths, the agency said. During delivery, causes included emergencies linked to hemorrhage and amniotic fluid embolism, which is when amniotic fluid enters a mother’s blood stream. Issues with a weakened heart muscle, called cardiomyopathy, was a leading cause of heart-related deaths for moms from one week to one year after giving birth.

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