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Heart Failure Hospitalizations at Nearly 4 Million

More elderly are now hospitalized; costs to government have increased

TUESDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalizations for heart failure in the United States increased from 1979 to nearly 4 million in 2004, with more hospitalizations for the elderly and increased costs to Medicare and Medicaid, according to a study in the Aug. 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Jing Fang, M.D., and colleagues from the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined trends in hospitalization for heart failure (as a first-listed or additional diagnosis) in the United States from 1979 to 2004 using data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey.

The researchers found that the number of hospitalizations due to heart failure tripled during this period to 3.86 million. Only 30 percent to 35 percent of admissions had heart failure as a first-listed diagnosis, and there were increases in respiratory and noncardiovascular, nonrespiratory diseases as first-listed diagnoses. More than 80 percent of hospitalizations involved patients 65 years or older and were paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. More heart failure hospitalizations led to transfers to long-term-care facilities, and there were reductions in in-hospital mortality and length of hospital stay.

"With the increased aging of the U.S. population and advanced therapeutic interventions that improve survival, it is expected that heart failure hospitalizations at older ages and the associated economic burden to Medicare will continue to increase in the future," Fang and colleagues conclude.

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