Health Care at Home May Help After Heart Surgery

Heart surgery patients in home health care program had lower death and readmission rates

(RxWiki News) Could the manner in which heart surgery patients are treated after their operation affect their health and life span? Maybe so, say the authors of a new study.

This study compared results 30 days after heart surgery in those who received traditional care and those who were enrolled in a program involving increased communication and home visits by healthcare professionals.

The study found that participation in the home health care program lowered patients' risk of hospital readmission following heart surgery.

"Talk to your doctor about ways to heal following a surgery."

The authors of this new study, which was led by Michael H. Hall, MD, MBA, of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, looked at results from a transitional care program called "Follow Your Heart" (FYH). The program was used to treat patients after they underwent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) — a surgery that aims to increase blood flow to the heart in patients with heart disease.

The program included two home visits from a nurse practitioner in the 10 days following surgery, several follow-up phone calls and around the clock telephone access to hospital personnel, including a surgeon.

Dr. Hall and team identified 401 CABG patients at a New York City hospital between May 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011. Of these, 169 participated in the FYH program and 232 received usual care after CABG. The usual care involved a phone call from a nurse practitioner within 24 hours after leaving the hospital and the patient returning for visits at the surgical clinic two and six weeks after leaving.

The researchers looked for instances of hospital readmission and death within the 30 days following heart surgery.

Of the FYH group, 3.85 percent of patients were either readmitted to the hospital or died in the 30 days following surgery, as compared with 11.54 percent of patients in the traditional care group. One usual care patient died and zero FYH patients died during the 30 days following surgery.

Dr. Hall and team noted that patients receiving usual care were 2.99 times more likely to be readmitted within 30 days than their peers in the FYH group.

It is important to note that the groups had some differences, including the fact that the FYH patients were slightly older, the usual care group had more Medicaid recipients, and the FYH group had more Caucasians. Further research is needed to confirm these findings among a wider group of participants.

This study was published in the May issue of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
May 1, 2014