Graphic of the cardiovascular system

Heart failure-related deaths reversed a 12-year decline and increased from 2012 to 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

In 2014, the rate of heart failure-related deaths after adjusting for age was at 84 deaths per 100,000 Americans, up from 81.4 deaths in 2012. Still, the rate is much lower than in 2000, when there were 105.4 heart failure-related deaths per 100,000 Americans. A similar fall and then slight rise was seen in the unadjusted rate of total deaths.

Experts say the disease was being better managed and healthcare professionals are more aware of heart failure and how to address it.

“There’s been a huge effort and so much focus on heart failure,” said University of Pennsylvania cardiologist Mariell Jessup, M.D. “But heart failure, for all intents and purposes, is a problem with the elderly, and the elderly population has increased.”

Nearly 309,000 Americans died from heart failure-related causes in 2014, up from about 290,000 in 2000, according to the report.

The number of people diagnosed with heart failure is expected to increase from about 5.7 million today to nearly 8 million by 2030, according to the American Heart Association.

Yet UCLA cardiologist Gregg Fonarow, M.D., said that when the number of people developing heart failure is adjusted for age, there is a decrease. The number of young people getting heart failure is declining, but there’s an increase in heart failure among older patients, causing the overall number of new heart failure cases to rise.

The new CDC report shows that the gap in the rate of heart failure-related deaths among people ages 45 to 64 and those 85 and older has increased over time.

“The trend reflects the aging of the population,” Fonarow said.

The CDC also looked at where people are dying of heart failure-related causes: deaths at hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities decreased from 2000 to 2014. The data showed a significant increase in deaths at home and other places, such as hospice or an outpatient clinic.

In general, Jessup said, men are more likely to die from their cardiovascular disease, while women are more prone to die from something else.

The CDC report found that overall, more men died of causes related to heart failure than women in 2014. As has been the case for years, heart failure kills more black Americans than whites and Hispanics.

The numbers from 2000 to 2012 reflect the research and progress in the field of treating heart failure, Fonarow said, particularly in patients with reduced ejection fraction. But the recent rise in heart failure deaths is of concern and further research is needed, he said.

Cardiovascular diseases other than coronary heart disease were the leading cause of heart failure-related deaths in 2014, with non-cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, cancer and kidney disease as the second underlying cause of death.

Authors of the CDC report wrote that it was based on an analysis of cause-of-death mortality files from the National Vital Statistics System from 2000 to 2014.