Summit on Heart Failure in African Americans – Plan to End Treatment Disparities

Heart failure (HF), sometimes known as congestive heart failure, is a condition that occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. HF plagues nearly 6 million Americans, producing 1 in 9 deaths and costing the nation $30 billion per year, two-thirds of which are direct health care costs; the direct health costs are expected to rise to $53 billion by 2030, mainly due to hospitalization cost. Eleven percent of Medicare recipients have HF but account for more than one-third of the costs to the program. Patients with HF are more likely to be hospitalized, accounting for 42% of Medicare admissions and well over half of re-admissions. Hospitalization is linked closely with mortality: nearly one quarter of patients hospitalized with HF will die within a year.

HF does not afflict all populations and regions equally. The map of HF death rates below shows a high prevalence in the Appalachian region and the south and south-central U.S. In addition, African Americans are disproportionately affected by the disease. African Americans are more likely to develop HF, they develop it earlier, and they face a faster reduction in functioning and ultimately death. African Americans also account for a higher percentage of hospitalization and re-hospitalization (see figure below). This HF disparity largely reflects suboptimal access to evidence-based care.

Recently, SHC in collaboration with NMQF and Aetna, hosted a Summit of experts, stake-holders, and patients, to put forward an action plan that will promote evidence-based and person-centered care for African Americans with HF that will save lives and dollars.  The group concluded that provider training was the key – including primary care teams for ambulatory care management and coordination with hospital discharge staff – as is better patient engagement to enhance treatment adherence and access to cardiac rehabilitation services.  The meeting was chaired by Dr. Keith Ferdinand, Professor of Medicine at the Tulane University School of Medicine, and Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, Director & Senior Associate Dean at the Morehouse School of Medicine.  Find a copy of the call to action along with slides and recordings from the meeting at the link below.  And visit this page often to learn more about our actions to promote evidence-based, patient-centered care for African-Americans with Heart Failure.

Summit on Heart Failure in African Americans Report


To learn more, contact Laura Lee Hall, PhD: