DALLAS (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Patients newly diagnosed with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction had about an 8% incidence of MIs during the subsequent 9 months, and a 5% incidence of ischemic strokes in a retrospective review of more than 1,600 community-dwelling U.S. patients.

The MI and ischemic stroke incidence rates in heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) were both significantly higher than in more than 4,000 patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), Gregg C. Fonarow, MD , said while presenting a poster at the annual scientific meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America.

The findings suggest that greater attention is needed to reduce the risks for MI and stroke in HFrEF patients, suggested Dr. Fonarow, professor and cochief of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his associates in their poster.

The study used claims data collected during July 2009-September 2016 from more than 10 million people enrolled in the United Health Group, who received care at more than 650 hospitals and about 6,600 clinics. The study included all patients diagnosed with heart failure during a hospital or emergency room visit and who had no history of a heart failure diagnosis or episode during the preceding 18 months, a left ventricular ejection fraction measurement made close to the time of the index encounter, and no stroke or MI apparent at the time of the index event. The study included 1,622 patients with HFrEF, defined as a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 40%, 4,288 with HFpEF, defined as an ejection fraction of 50% or more, and 1,095 with heart failure with a borderline ejection fraction of 40%-49%.

The HFrEF patients had an average ejection fraction of 28%, they averaged 72 years old, 36% were women, and 8% had a prior stroke. The HFpEF patients averaged 74 years old, their average ejection fraction was 61%, 55% were women, and 11% had a prior stroke. Follow-up data on all patients were available for an average of nearly 9 months following their index heart failure event, with some patients followed as long as 1 year.

During follow-up, the incidence of ischemic stroke was 5.4% in the HFrEF patients and 3.9% in those with HFpEF, a difference that worked out to a statistically significant 40% higher ischemic stroke rate in HFrEF patients after adjustment for baseline differences between the two patient groups, Dr. Fonarow reported . The patients with a borderline ejection fraction had a 3.7% stroke incidence that fell short of a significant difference, compared with the HFrEF patient.The rate of new MIs during follow-up was 7.5% in the HFrEF patients and 3.2% in the HFpEF patients, a statistically significant 2.5-fold relatively higher MI rate with HFrEF, a statistically significant difference after adjustments. The MI incidence in patients with a borderline ejection fraction was 5.9%

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