Data from the general population on the natural course of heart failure is lacking. The objectives of the STAAB cohort study are to determine the prevalence of heart failure stages A–B in a representative sample of the general population and to prospectively investigate the progression from asymptomatic cardiac dysfunction into symptomatic heart failure. Here we present study design, participation rates and baseline characteristics of the first 1468 enrolled subjects.Methods
A random sample of inhabitants from the city of Würzburg stratified by age (30–79 years) and gender was drawn from the local registration office. Subjects receive invitation letters, while send-out batches are continuously adapted to response rates by age and gender. At baseline examination, data on echocardiographic cardiac function, comorbidities and preclinical cardiovascular phenotypes are collected. After 3–5 years, changes in cardiac function and occurrence of clinical events will be assessed in a follow-up visit.Results
Between December 2013 and April 2015, 4499 subjects were invited; of those, 1510 (34.6%) responded positively, and 1468 were examined (32.6%). Stratified recruitment was on-target while the participation rate was highest in subjects aged 60–69 years (38%). Hypertension (42%) and dyslipidaemia (37%) were the most commonly reported comorbidities; 7% reported on diabetes and 23% of men (vs. 17% of women) were smokers.Conclusions
STAAB recruits a representative population-based sample suited to provide reliable estimates of the frequency of asymptomatic cardiac dysfunction and determinants of disease progression into symptomatic heart failure. These findings will build the ground for developing preventive strategies for heart failure at different stages of the disease continuum.