Continued assessment of temporal trends in mortality and epidemiology of specific cardiovascular diseases in South America is needed to provide a scientific basis for rational allocation of the limited healthcare resources and introduction of strategies to reduce risk and predict the future burden of cardiovascular disease. The epidemiology of cardiomyopathies, adult valve disease and heart failure (HF) in South America is reviewed here. Diseases of the circulatory system are the main cause of death based on data from about 50% of the South American population. Among the cardiovascular causes of death, cerebrovascular disease is predominant followed by ischaemic heart disease, other heart diseases and hypertensive disease. Of note, cerebrovascular disease is the main cause of death in women, and race also influenced cardiovascular mortality rates. HF is the most important cardiovascular reason for admission to hospital due to cardiovascular disease of ischaemic, idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathic, valvular, hypertensive and chagasic aetiologies. Also, mortality due to HF is high, especially owing to Chagas’ disease. HF and aetiologies associated with HF are responsible for 6.3% of deaths. Rheumatic fever is the leading cause of valvular heart disease. The findings have important public health implications because the allocation of healthcare resources, and strategies to reduce the risk of HF should also consider controlling Chagas’ disease and rheumatic fever in South American countries.
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