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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


KRAUS, S; OGUNBANJO, G; SLIWA, K  and  NTUSI, N A B. Heart failure in sub-Saharan Africa: A clinical approach. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2016, vol.106, n.1, pp.23-31. ISSN 2078-5135.

Despite medical advances, heart failure (HF) remains a global health problem and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is no exception, with decompensated HF being the most common primary diagnosis for patients admitted to hospital with heart disease. In SSA the in-hospital mortality rate of decompensated HF is up to 8.3%. HF is a clinical syndrome that is caused by a diverse group of aetiologies, each requiring unique management strategies, highlighting the need for diagnostic certainty and a broad understanding of the complex pathophysiology of this condition. While there are a number of advanced medical, device and surgical interventions being tailored for HF internationally, the fundamental basic principles of HF management, such as patient education, effective management of congestion and initiation of disease- modifying medical therapies, remain a challenge on our continent. This review addresses both the epidemiology of HF in SSA and principles of management that focus specifically on symptom relief, prevention of hospitalisation and improving survival in this population.

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