NPR : News

Filed Under:

Heart Failure Lands Fewer Seniors In Hospital

Which illness puts more elderly people in the hospital than any other? Heart failure, a serious impairment of blood-pumping power.

But, as some Yale researchers have found, the rate of hospitalization for heart failure has gone down a lot, according to Medicare data for the decade ending in 2008.

The analysis is pretty complicated, and makes adjustments for a bunch of risk factors, but the upshot is clear: The rate of heart failure admissions in 2008 was 29.5 percent lower than in 1998. It's the first study to show a national decline.

The change means that about 229,000 admissions, which cost about $18,000 each, were probably avoided in 2008. That's $4.1 billion in savings to Medicare.

What's going on? The researchers figure gains in the treatment of coronary artery disease, better management of blood pressure and more outpatient treatment of the condition are potential explanations.

No matter how you slice it, the trend is a real improvement, says Yale cardiologist Jersey Chen, a co-author of the paper just published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, in a video interview.

Heart failure is often fatal in older people. And a separate analysis showed that death within a year of admission for heart failure barely budged, staying around 30 percent.

"While we've made tremendous strides in the decrease in heart failure hospitalizations... it's too early to declare victory," Chen says. "The one-year mortality rate remains very high."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Glimpse Of Listeners' #NPRpoetry — From The Punny To The Profound

It was a simple idea: Would you, our listeners, tweet us poems for National Poetry Month? Your response contained multitudes — haiku, lyrics, even one 8-year-old's ode to her dad's bald spot.
WAMU 88.5

Eating Insects: The Argument For Adding Bugs To Our Diet

Some say eating insects could save the planet, as we face the potential for global food and protein shortages. It's a common practice in many parts of the world, but what would it take to make bugs more appetizing to the masses here in the U.S.? Does it even make sense to try? A look at the arguments for and against the practice known as entomophagy, and the cultural and environmental issues involved.

WAMU 88.5

A Federal Official Shakes Up Metro's Board

After another smoke incident and ongoing single tracking delays for fixes, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced a shake-up of Metro's board.

NPR

Bitcoin's Maker Revealed? Australian Man Says He Is 'Satoshi Nakamoto'

Craig Wright, 45, is an entrepreneur whose name has often been mentioned in conversations about Bitcoin's creator; in recent months, he was also investigated by tax authorities.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.