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AHA Report: Risk of Hospital Readmission Prolonged After Heart Attack, Heart Failure

Risk can extend well beyond 30 days after discharge (May 16)

Heart attack or heart failure patients may have a high risk of death or readmission for a month or longer after leaving the hospital, researchers said at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Scientific Sessions 2013, held May 15–17 in Baltimore, Maryland.

“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,” said lead author Kumar Dharmarajan, MD, MBA. “Post-discharge care may be improved when aligned to the periods of greatest risk for patients.”

The researchers examined Medicare data on patients discharged for heart failure (878,963) and heart attack (350,509). Their findings included:

  • Within the first year, 41.8% of heart failure patients died, and 70.3% were re-hospitalized.
  • Within the first year, 25.9% of heart attack patients died, and 50.5% were re-hospitalized.
  • The risk of re-hospitalization after heart failure took more than 1 month (43 days) to decline 50% from its peak level after discharge.
  • In the month after a heart attack, 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.

Source: American Heart Association; May 16, 2013.

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