Clinical characteristics and causes of heart failure, adherence to treatment guidelines, and mortality of patients with acute heart failure: Experience at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
Background. There is limited information on acute heart failure (AHF) and its treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.
Objective. To describe the clinical characteristics and causes of heart failure (HF), adherence to HF treatment guidelines, and mortality of patients with AHF presenting to Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), Cape Town, South Africa.
Methods. This sub-study of The Sub-Saharan Africa Survey of Heart Failure (THESUS-HF) was a prospective and observational survey that focused on the enrolment and follow-up of additional patients with AHF presenting to GSH and entered into the existing registry after publication of the primary THESUS-HF article in 2012. The patients were classified into prevalent (existing) or incident (new) cases of HF.
Results. Of the 119 patients included, 69 (58.0%) were female and the mean (standard deviation) age was 49.9 (16.3) years. The majority of prevalent cases were patients of mixed ancestry (63.3%), and prevalent cases had more hypertension (70.0%), diabetes mellitus (36.7%), hyperlipidaemia (33.3%) and ischaemic heart disease (IHD) (36.7%) than incident cases. The top five causes of HF were cardiomyopathy (20.2%), IHD (19.3%), rheumatic valvular heart disease (RHD) (18.5%), cor pulmonale (11.8%) and hypertension (10.1%), with the remaining 20.1% consisting of miscellaneous causes including pericarditis, toxins and congenital heart disease. Most patients received renin-angiotensin system blockers and loop diuretics on discharge. There was a low rate of beta-blocker, aldosterone antagonist and digoxin use. Rehospitalisation within 180 days occurred in 25.2% of cases. In-hospital mortality was 8.4% and the case fatality rate at 6 months was 26.1%.
Conclusion. In Cape Town, the main causes of AHF are cardiomyopathy, IHD and RHD. AHF affects a young population and is associated with a high rate of rehospitalisation and mortality. There is serious under-use of beta-blockers, aldosterone antagonists and digoxin. Emphasis on the rigorous application of treatment guidelines is needed to reduce readmission and mortality.