A person aged 40 or over has a lifetime risk of heart failure of one in five, which is doubled if they have high blood pressure. Heart failure is an increasing problem, as the population ages. It's caused by increasing pressure within the heart which makes it hard to pump blood around the body. Typical symptoms are breathlessness and fatigue and the condition is very disabling.
Researchers for the Framingham Heart Study have been looking at the rates of heart failure over a 24 year time period in a group of over 7,050 men and women. For women, the lifetime risk of heart failure if they had no history of heart attack was one in six. For all women, the risk is one in five - from age 40. For men, the risk without heart attack was one in nine, and overall the same as women - one in five. This suggests that previous heart attack does raise the risk of heart failure.
Similar trends were also found for those who have high blood pressure - which roughly doubles the risk of heart failure for both men and women. The study strongly suggests that reducing high blood pressure and heart attack risk will also reduce rates of heart failure.