One in 100 black men and women develop heart failure before age 50, according to one of the first long-term studies to look at the life-threatening condition in younger adults.
The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests blacks in that age group suffer the condition at a rate 20 times that of whites. However, the findings are based on a very small number of cases, the authors said, so more study is needed. Heart failure, which occurs when the heart loses its ability to pump sufficient blood through the body, is often fatal.
“Usually this is a disease of the elderly,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a physician who is one of the study’s authors. “When this disease happens in 30- and 40-year-olds, it’s quite dramatic.”
The researchers looked at data from more than 5,100 people who were ages 18 to 30 at the time they joined the study more than 20 years ago.