A systematic assessment of causes of death after heart failure onset in the community

Douglas S. Lee, Philimon Gona, Irene Albano, Martin G. Larson, Emelia J. Benjamin, Daniel Levy, William B. Kannel, Ramachandran S. Vasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Background-The high mortality rate in patients with heart failure (HF) is influenced by presence of multiple comorbidities. Data are limited on the relative contributions of cardiovascular versus noncardiovascular diseases to death in individuals with HF in the community. Methods and Results-We examined the incidence and predictors of cardiovascular versus noncardiovascular death in participants with HF in the Framingham Heart Study. Underlying, immediate, and contributing causes of death (3 key elements of the World Health Organization classification) were adjudicated by a 3-physician review panel. During 1971 to 2004, 1025 participants with HF died (499 men, mean [SD] age at death 79 [11] years), including 463 participants with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) data. Cardiovascular disease was the cause of death in 66.1% overall. Stratified by LVEF, cardiovascular deaths occurred in 44.5% and 69.9% of those with preserved and reduced LVEF, respectively. Presence of reduced LVEF increased the risk of cardiovascular death, with odds ratios of 3.16 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.73 to 5.78) in men and 2.39 (95% CI, 1.39 to 4.08) in women. Prior myocardial infarction was associated with increased cardiovascular death in women with HF (odds ratio, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.10 to 3.16) but not in men. The risk of cardiovascular disease death decreased in women (odds ratio after 1980, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.24 to 0.69) and men (odds ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.41 to 1.07, P-0.095) with HF over time. Infections and kidney disease emerged as key immediate and contributing causes of death, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-43
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation: Heart Failure
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cause of death
  • Death
  • Epidemiology
  • Heart failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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