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Despite Increasing Rates of Heart Failure, New Survey Indicates Only 1 in 5 Americans Can Recognize Symptoms
- Heart failure is a manageable condition, especially if it is detected early, but people are shying away from a conversation with their doctor because they are afraid of the diagnosis
- Abbott, the global leader in heart failure treatment and technologies, is using this information to increase awareness and patient-physician dialogue as heart failure diagnoses are expected to rise 46% by 2030

ABBOTT PARK, Ill., June 18, 2019 – Heart failure now accounts for more hospitalizations than all forms of cancer combined, and it costs the U.S. an estimated $30.7 billion each year. More than 6 million Americans are currently living with the disease, yet only 1 in 5 adults can accurately recognize the condition's signs and symptoms. A new survey, commissioned by Abbott, of more than 3,000 Americans reveals a significant gap in awareness of what heart failure is and an understanding of how the disease can be managed.

In addition to a low understanding of heart failure signs and symptoms, survey data also found:

  • While more than 50% of people understand that heart failure can be controlled if identified early, only 1 in 5 respondents could correctly identify the majority of heart failure symptoms.
  • 65% of survey respondents said they wish they knew more about heart failure, but only 1 in 5 are likely to speak to their doctor because they are afraid of what it might mean.
  • Most people don’t think heart failure will impact them or their family; however, every 2 in 5 Americans are either affected by heart failure or personally know someone who is.

“These survey results are a wake-up call for Americans to start talking about the signs and risk factors of heart failure," said Philip B. Adamson, M.D., medical director for Abbott’s heart failure business. “Millions of people—far too many families—are impacted by this condition and don’t realize an earlier diagnosis can allow for more effective treatment options. Abbott is focused on clearing up the misunderstandings of heart failure and raising awareness of management options, so people can focus on living healthy lives.”

To build awareness, Abbott has created resources to help people talk with their doctor about symptoms, risk factors and treatment options. Find these materials, and stories of people living full, rewarding lives at

Heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition in which the heart is not able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Heart failure symptoms include:

  • Feeling fatigued and weak
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles or feet

For At-Risk Groups, Increased Awareness is not Translating to Action

Survey results suggest concerted efforts to educate minority communities about their risk of developing heart failure are working—Hispanic and African American respondents are significantly more likely to recognize that they are at a higher risk for developing heart failure. These efforts are for good reason: the incidence of heart failure is 2.4 per 1,000 persons in Caucasian communities, 3.5 in Hispanics, and 4.6 in African Americans.

But those same groups are not any more likely to accurately identify symptoms or know what to do if they were experiencing heart failure:

  • Only 25% of African American and Hispanic respondents said they would quickly recognize if they were experiencing heart failure.
  • Just 31% of African American respondents and 33% of Hispanic respondents said they would know what to do if they thought they were experiencing heart failure.

There is also evidence that suggests a need to continue awareness efforts among other at-risk groups, including men, pregnant women and cancer patients.

Primary Care Physicians are Top Information Source, But People are Unlikely to ask Them about Heart Failure

There is a clear desire for more information: 65% of people say they wish they knew more about heart failure, but there is an assumption that the doctor will bring it up if there is a concern.

“We learned that 45% of survey-takers believe that a cardiologist has to diagnose heart failure,” said Dr. Adamson. “Your first conversation about heart failure doesn’t have to be with a cardiologist or heart failure specialist. Heart failure is a topic you can—and should—bring up to your primary care doctor.” 

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted in March 2019 among a sample of 3,000 U.S. residents ages 18 and over who are representative of national census demographics. As to not bias the data, Abbott was not revealed as the sponsor.

About Abbott

Abbott is a global healthcare leader that helps people live more fully at all stages of life. Our portfolio of life-changing technologies spans the spectrum of healthcare, with leading businesses and products in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic medicines. Our 103,000 colleagues serve people in more than 160 countries.

Connect with us at, on LinkedIn at, on Facebook at and on Twitter @AbbottNews and @AbbottGlobal.

For further information: Abbott Media: Shelley Lange, 612-346-3514; Abbott Financial: Mike Comilla, 224-668-1872

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