Hearts Getting Stronger

Heart failures are declining

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The number of older patients hospitalized for heart failure or associated complications steadily declined over a decade-long study period that also found that mortality a year after the event has improved.

While hospitalizations among Medicaid patients have dropped, the average age for heart failure-related hospitalization has increased by one year.

"Go to the hospital immediately if you have any symptoms of heart failure."

Dr. Jersey Chen, a physician with the Yale University School of Medicine, and his colleagues wrote that the risk of developing heart failure increases with advancing age, and ranks as the most frequent cause of hospitalization and rehospitalization among older Americans.

During the study researchers reviewed data of 55,097,390 Medicare patients hospitalized for heart failure between 1998 and 2008 to determine hospitalization rates and the resulting one-year mortality rate.  The patients received care at an acute care hospital in the United States or Puerto Rico.

They found that the average age of the heart failure patients increased from 79 years old to 80 years old during the 10 year study period. The proportion of female patients dropped from 59 percent to 56 percent, and the number of black patients increased slightly from 11 percent to 12 percent.

Investigators found that overall hospitalization for heart failure decreased by 30 percent over the study period. Additionally, 16 states reported rates lower than the national average in heart failure hospitalizations while three states, including Wyoming, Rhode Island, and Connecticut experienced a drop significantly lower than the national average.

An estimated 229,000 heart failure hospitalizations were prevented during the study period amounting to an estimated Medicare savings of $4.1 billion. The decline in heart failure hospitalizations was attributed to fewer hospitalizations rather than fewer incidences of heart failure.

The adjusted one-year mortality rate also decreased from 32 percent to 30 percent, though there was substantial variation by state.

The study was published in the Oct. 19 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Review Date: 
October 19, 2011
Last Updated:
October 20, 2011