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High Cost of Care for Patients With Atrial Fibrillation

Significantly higher inpatient/outpatient medical and pharmacy costs compared with controls

THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Medical costs are higher for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) compared with controls, due to increased inpatient and outpatient costs, according to a study published online May 3 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Michael H. Kim, M.D., from the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues evaluated the cost burden of AF using administrative claims from the MarketScan Commercial and Medicare Supplemental research databases from 2004 to 2006. A total of 89,066 patients aged 20 years or older with one or more inpatient, or two or more outpatient AF diagnoses in 2005 were propensity-score matched with non-AF control individuals. Medical costs were assessed for one year after first diagnosis. National incremental costs were based on age- and gender-specific AF prevalence estimates for 2010.

The investigators found that, over one year, 37.5 percent of individuals with AF were hospitalized compared with 17.5 percent of controls. During hospitalization, 2.1 percent of patients with AF died compared with 0.1 percent of controls. The mean annual inpatient costs per patient with AF were significantly higher, at $7,841 compared with $2,622 for controls. Costs for outpatient medical and pharmacy costs were also significantly higher for patients with AF compared with controls. The total incremental cost per patient with AF was $8,705 and the national incremental cost was $26.0 billion.

"This study indicates that direct medical costs are substantially higher in AF patients than in medically matched non-AF control subjects -- primarily because of higher inpatient costs (due to more frequent hospitalization/mortality) and outpatient medical costs associated with AF," the authors write.

Several of the study authors disclosed financial relationships with Sanofi-Aventis, which supported this study.

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