2021 | HFSA

Heart Failure and Racial Differences: Understanding the Signs Through Education

Patient News Heart Failure Awareness 365

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Today heart failure (HF) affects over 6 million people in the U.S. This number is expected to grow [46%] to over [8] million people by 2030.1 This is around [3]% of the U.S. population; and  [≈3.6]% within the Black population.2 

While HF affects so many, there are racial differences with many more Black people having HF than White people. Hospitalization rates are also higher in the Black population which may be due to patients having other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Having these conditions increases the chance of going to the hospital. Other factors such as family history, access to healthy food, health care among many others, may also play a significant role in the risk of developing HF in the Black population.

HF is also higher in the younger Black population compared to the general population. In one study, HF before the age of 50 was twenty times more common than in the White population.3  The HF-related death rate is higher in the Black population compared to the White population in younger adults aged 35-64. This is likely due to the fact that HF happens at a younger age in the Black population.

Keep it Pumping

Education and awareness of HF is so important. Knowing the signs and symptoms of HF can help patients recognize these symptoms and get to their health care professional (HCP) as soon as possible. Sometimes people think that HF symptoms are a sign of getting older and don’t realize that they could actually be HF. The most common signs and symptoms of HF that a patient should look out for are shortness of breath, coughing, feeling tired, and swelling of the ankles, feet and stomach. 

It is important to work with an HCP as soon as any signs are noticed. This will ensure a timely diagnosis. The key to a successful plan for managing HF is to have an open conversation with an HCP. Together, you can talk about your goals and work on a plan for managing your HF that will work best for you. Your HCP may recommend you change your eating habits to follow a heart-healthy low-salt diet. They may also add physical activity into your daily routine. Making these changes can have a positive impact on helping people with HF manage their condition successfully. 
For more information on HF and managing the condition, go to hfsa.org. Another resource to learn more about HF, to learn about Freddie’s inspiring story about her HF journey, or sign-up to receive a Heart Failure Handbook, visit keepitpumping.com


Helpful Resources

Visit the HFSA Patient Hub to explore tools and resources to help patients stay healthy while living with heart failure. 

View Heart Failure Awareness 365 activities to stay up-to-date on tips for healthy living for people living with heart failure.



1.    Circulation AHA Statistical Update Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2021 Update. A report from the American Heart Association 
2.    Heidenreich PA, Albert NM, Allen LA, et al. Forecasting the impact of heart failure in the United States. Circ Heart Fail. 2013;6:606– 619.          doi:10.1161/HHF.0b013e318291329
3.    http://www.abcardio.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Yancy_Colvin.pdf
4.    Loehr LR, Rosamond WD, Chang PP, Folsom AR, Chambless LE. Heart failure incidence and survival (from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study). Am J Cardiol. 2008;101:1016–1022. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2007.11.061