Heart failure in Africa and the Middle East a problem – Report
The Journal of the Saudi Heart Association in a paper has said that heart failure is a serious and growing health problem across the Middle East and Africa (MEA), where prevalence is markedly higher than the global average.
The paper highlights the gaps identified by an expert group and lays out their recommendations on how to reverse current trajectories by urgently improving awareness, diagnosis, and prevention of heart failure in MEA.
The key finding of the paper is that heart failure is associated with significant morbidity and mortality and considerably impacts patients’ quality of life and the average age a person will develop heart failure in the MEA region is significantly lower than elsewhere.
The paper emphasised that in Africa the age to develop heart failure is 53 years in the Middle East it is 56 years in North Africa it is 58 years in Asia it is 60 years and in Europe, it is 60 years, therefore heart failure incurs a substantial economic burden in the MEA region, with recurrent hospitalisation account for the bulk of the cost which is estimated to be US$1.92 billion.
The paper highlighted that risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, smoking, and socio-economic transition as well as a marked increased intake of fatty foods and physical inactivity, contribute to the higher prevalence of heart failure in the region. Lack of community-level awareness and high prevalence of associated conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, compounded by poor accessibility and affordability to healthcare, are major barriers to the prevention of heart failure in the region, the paper noted.
The key findings of the paper are also that there is a shortage of robust regional databases or registries and under-representation of the MEA region in research studies are barriers to identifying the real-world burden of heart failure, hindering prevention strategies. And in some countries, the high prevalence of existing infectious diseases such as tuberculosis shifts the focus from non-communicable diseases, leading to a lack of support for the implementation of heart failure awareness programmes and campaigns.
In recommendations, the paper included that heart failure and its associated commodities, such as chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, alongside other infectious diseases should be prioritised and region-specific guidelines on heart failure and monitoring their implementation should be developed.
Local registries should be created to increase the available data on heart failure and health workers should be trained in the early identification of high-risk patients, such as people with pretension and ischemic heart disease and to improve access to advanced diagnostic and train primary care health workers to use the available technology.
The paper was established to improve the outlook on heart failure in MEA when an assembly of experts from across the region convened to discuss how to address the increasing burden of heart failure based on their real-world, professional experiences and the results of the meeting were published in the paper in the Journal of the Saudi Heart Association, co-authored by the participants of the assembly.