Studies have shown that preterm birth is associated with a high risk of heart failure in early life. However, the risk of long-term heart failure in adulthood is not well studied. This study aims to examine the association of preterm birth with an increased risk of heart failure from childhood to mid-adulthood.

This national cohort study included a total of 4,193.069 individuals with preterm birth. Gestational age at birth was considered. The primary outcome of the study was heart failure identified from inpatient and outpatient diagnoses.

During 85.0 million person-years of follow-up, 4,158 individuals were identified as having heart failure. The findings suggested that preterm birth was associated with an increased risk of heart failure at aged younger than 1 year (hazard ratio 4.49), 1 to 17 years (3.42), and 18 to 43 years (1.42) compared to a full-term birth. At ages 18-43 years, hazard ratios stratified by gestational age were 4.72 for extremely preterm births, 1.93 for moderately preterm births, and 1.24 for early term births. The corresponding heart failure incidence rates were 31.7, 13.8, 8.7, and 7.3, respectively.

The research concluded that preterm birth was associated with a higher risk of new-onset heart failure into adulthood.