Belt with a Death-Grip

So-called stroke belt of U.S. may also be heart failure belt

(RxWiki News) A new study finds that residents of the nation's so-called stroke belt (southeastern states) also have higher-than-average deaths from heart failure.

The rate of death from heart failure in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma was approximately 31 per 100,000, or about 69 percent higher than the national average of 18 heart failure deaths per 100,000.

Stroke-related deaths are about 50 percent higher in this part of the country compared to the national average.

Heart failure -- a chronic condition in which the heart gradually loses its ability to pump blood efficiently -- shares some common risk factors with stroke, including high blood pressure, clogged arteries and diabetes, but the conditions are also distinct from one another, causing researchers to wonder what kind of geographical pattern they would find heading into the study.

Senior investigator Dr. Ali Ahmed said higher ratios of clogged arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes may help explain why the stroke belt could also become known as the heart failure belt, but he said it could also be that people in the southeast are more likely to advance to severe heart failure because of possible disparities in the quality of healthcare there.

Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart failure in the U.S., but the condition may also follow certain illnesses or poisoning that weakens the heart muscle.

Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath with activity or while lying down, swelling in the abdomen, irregular or rapid pulse and fatigue.

Review Date: 
February 4, 2011