Heart Failure Mortality Down Significantly in Veterans

Study finds mortality drop despite increase in comorbidities and rate of rehospitalization

FRIDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Although veterans with heart failure have presented with more comorbidities and have been rehospitalized more frequently in recent years, their 30-day mortality rates have decreased significantly, according to a study in the July 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Paul A. Heidenreich, M.D., of Stanford University in California, and colleagues assessed trends in heart failure care in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System during 2002 to 2006. The authors looked at mortality rates, rates of hospitalization and rehospitalization, and comorbidities.

The researchers identified 50,125 veterans (mean age, 70 years) with an initial heart failure hospitalization during the study period. The admission rate was constant at about five per 1,000 veterans. Thirty-day mortality decreased from 7.1 to 5.0 percent (P < 0.0001); however, rehospitalization at 30 days increased from 5.6 to 6.1 percent (P = 0.11), and the mean Charlson comorbidity score increased from 1.72 to 1.89 (P < 0.0001).

"In summary, we found that the Veterans Affairs hospitalization rate for heart failure has remained stable from 2002 to 2006. Although patients have increasingly more comorbidities, their mortality has declined significantly. In contrast, rehospitalization rates for heart failure have not fallen and may have increased. Additional studies are needed to determine the reasons for the decline in mortality and to determine which fraction of hospitalizations are preventable," the authors write.

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