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Heart patients face long-term readmission risk

Thursday May 16, 2013
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Myocardial infarction or heart failure patients may have a high risk of death or re-admission for a month or longer after leaving the hospital, according to a study.

“The risks of death and re-hospitalization can extend well beyond 30 days after discharge, the time period used by the federal government for measuring hospital performance,” Kumar Dharmarajan, MD, MBA, the study’s lead author and a fellow in cardiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, said in a news release. “Post-discharge care may be improved when aligned to the periods of greatest risk for patients.”

As presented May 16 at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes meeting, researchers examined Medicare data on patients discharged for heart failure (878,963) and MI (350,509).

They found that within the first year, 41.8% of heart failure patients died and 70.3% were re-hospitalized; and 25.9% of MI patients died, with 50.5% rehospitalized.

The risk of re-hospitalization after heart failure took 43 days to decline 50% from its peak level after discharge.

In the month after a MI, the likelihood of death was 21 times higher and the likelihood of hospitalization was 12 times higher than among the general Medicare-age population. In the month after hospitalization for heart failure, the likelihood of death was 17 times higher and the likelihood of hospitalization was 16 times higher than among the general Medicare-age population.

“In the weeks after hospital discharge, your risk of death, re-hospitalization and other complications is very high,” said Dharmarajan, a visiting scholar at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. “If you feel ill, take it seriously and contact your healthcare provider.”

Read the study abstract: http://circoutcomes.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/6/3_MeetingAbstracts/A13.

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