Heart failure care and outcomes in a Tanzanian emergency department: A prospective observational study.



The burden of heart failure is growing in sub-Saharan Africa, but there is a dearth of data characterizing care and outcomes of heart failure patients in the region, particularly in emergency department settings.


In a prospective observational study, adult patients presenting with shortness of breath or chest pain to an emergency department in northern Tanzania were consecutively enrolled. Participants with a physician-documented clinical diagnosis of heart failure were included in the present analysis. Standardized questionnaires regarding medical history and medication use were administered at enrollment, and treatments given in the emergency department were recorded. Thirty days after enrollment, a follow-up questionnaire was administered to assess mortality and medication use. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to identify baseline predictors of thirty-day mortality.


Of 1020 enrolled participants enrolled from August 2018 through October 2019, 267 patients (26.2%) were diagnosed with heart failure. Of these, 139 (52.1%) reported a prior history of heart failure, 168 (62.9%) had self-reported history of hypertension, and 186 (69.7%) had NYHA Class III or IV heart failure. At baseline, 40 (15.0%) reported taking a diuretic and 67 (25.1%) reported taking any antihypertensive. Thirty days following presentation, 63 (25.4%) participants diagnosed with heart failure had died. Of 185 surviving participants, 16 (8.6%) reported taking a diuretic, 24 (13.0%) reported taking an antihypertensive, and 26 (14.1%) were rehospitalized. Multivariate predictors of thirty-day mortality included self-reported hypertension (OR = 0.42, 95% CI: 0.21-0.86], p = 0.017) and symptomatic leg swelling at presentation (OR = 2.69, 95% CI: 1.35-5.56, p = 0.006).


In a northern Tanzanian emergency department, heart failure is a common clinical diagnosis, but uptake of evidence-based outpatient therapies is poor and thirty-day mortality is high. Interventions are needed to improve care and outcomes for heart failure patients in the emergency department setting.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Prattipati, Sainikitha, Francis M Sakita, Godfrey L Kweka, Tumsifu G Tarimo, Timothy Peterson, Blandina T Mmbaga, Nathan M Thielman, Alexander T Limkakeng, et al. (2021). Heart failure care and outcomes in a Tanzanian emergency department: A prospective observational study. PloS one, 16(7). p. e0254609. 10.1371/journal.pone.0254609 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23879.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.


Blandina Mmbaga

Adjunct Associate Professor of Global Health

Nathan Maclyn Thielman

Professor of Medicine

Broadly, my research focuses on a range of clinical and social issues that affect persons living with or at risk for HIV infection in resource-poor settings. In Tanzania, our group is applying novel methods to optimize HIV testing uptake among high-risk groups. We recently demonstrated that the Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE), a form of stated preference survey research, is a robust tool for identifying (a) which characteristics of HIV testing options are most preferred by different populations and (b) which tradeoffs individuals make in evaluating testing options. Building on more than a decade of productive HIV testing research in the Kilimanjaro Region, the next phase of our NIMH funded project will test the hypothesis that DCE-derived HIV testing options significantly increases rates of testing among groups at high risk for HIV infection. This work holds promise not only for optimizing HIV testing uptake in the Kilimanjaro Region, but also for applying novel tools in the service of translational epidemiology and implementation research.


Alexander Tan Limkakeng

Professor of Emergency Medicine

Dr. Alexander T. Limkakeng, Jr., MD, MHSc, FACEP is a Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Director of the Acute Care Research Team, and Director of the Resident Research Fellowship for the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Limkakeng has served as chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Research Committee, and been the Course Director of the ACEP Research Forum from 2016-2018, the largest emergency medical research platform in the nation. He is also the Assistant Director of ACEP’s Emergency Medicine Basic Research Skills course. He was elected to the Nominating Committee of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine.

As a researcher, Dr. Limkakeng has led multiple clinical trials and interdepartmental sponsored projects and is author on over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts. These include studies in emergency conditions such as COVID-19, traumatic brain injury, hypertension, heart failure, thrombosis, stroke, envenomations, and septic shock. His research has been funded by grants and contracts totaling over $9 million dollars. He has lectured internationally on acute coronary syndrome, responsible conduct of research, design of clinical trials, and precision medicine in emergency care. He has led Duke’s involvement in NIH-funded research networks and in industry-funded work that led to FDA approval for multiple high-sensitivity cardiac troponin assays and point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic tests. He has servesd as Co-PI for the Duke U24 Hub in the NIH Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net) (1U24NS114416) and now serves as a co-PI on the Duke U24 Hub award (1U24NS129498) in the NIH Strategies to Innovate Emergency Care Clinical Trials (SIREN) Network and in the NIH NINDS Strokenet network (1U24NS135250)

His personal research interest is finding new ways to diagnose acute coronary syndrome. In particular, he is interested in novel biomarkers and precision medicine approaches to this problem. The common element throughout this work is a focus on time-sensitive health conditions.

Gerald Bloomfield

Associate Professor of Medicine

Gerald Bloomfield, MD, MPH, joined the faculty in Medicine and Global Health after completing his Cardiovascular Medicine fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center and Duke Clinical Research Institute. Bloomfield also completed the Duke Global Health Residency/Fellowship Pathway and a Fogarty International Clinical Research Fellowship. He received his medical education, internal medicine residency and Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University. Bloomfield leads a longstanding research and capacity building program on cardiovascular global health which includes work in under-resourced communities in the US and a number of low- and middle-income country settings.


Julian T Hertz

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine

Julian Hertz, MD, MSc, is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine & Global Health. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and attended medical school at Duke University, where he received the Dean's Merit Scholarship and the Thomas Jefferson Award for leadership. He completed his residency training in emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and his fellowship in Global Health at Duke.

Dr. Hertz's primary interests include global health, implementation science, and undergraduate and graduate medical education. Dr. Hertz's research focuses on using implementation science methods to improve cardiovascular care both locally and globally. His current projects involve developing interventions to improve acute myocardial infarction care in Tanzania, to improve management of hypertension among Tanzanians with HIV, and to improve post-hospital care among patients with multimorbidity in East Africa.

Dr. Hertz has received numerous awards for clinical, educational, and research excellence, including the Duke Emergency Medicine Faculty Teacher of the Year Award, the Duke Emergency Medicine Faculty Clinician of the Year Award, and the Duke Emergency Medicine Faculty Researcher of the Year Award. He has also received the Golden Apple Teaching Award from the Duke medical student body, the Duke Master Clinician/Teacher Award, and the Global Academic Achievement Award from the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine.

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