Background: Congestive heart failure (CHF) disproportionately affects African Americans, but data are limited concerning CHF hospitalization patterns among Hispanic and Asian populations, the 2 fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, and race/ethnic patterns of rehospitalization and survival among patients with CHF are unknown. We conducted a study to assess rates of CHF hospitalization, readmission, and survival among diverse populations in California.
Methods and results: We used 2 study designs. First, we calculated the population-based incidence of CHF hospitalization in California in 1991. Next we conducted a retrospective cohort study that identified patients initially hospitalized for CHF in 1991 or 1992 and followed these patients for 12 months after their index hospitalization to determine their likelihood of rehospitalization or death. Data were analyzed with Cox proportional hazards models. African Americans had the highest rate of CHF hospitalization. Age-adjusted hospitalization rates were comparable among whites, Latinos, and Asian women and all lower than those in African American, whereas Asian men had the lowest rates. On adjusted analyses, African Americans were more likely than whites and Asians to be rehospitalized (relative risk 1.07; 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.10). However, they were less likely to die within the 12-month follow-up period (relative risk 0.86; 95% confidence interval 0.82 to 0.90). Whites, conversely, had the highest posthospitalization mortality rates.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate important racial-ethnic differences in CHF morbidity and mortality rates. The disparate findings of higher hospitalization and rehospitalization rates and lower mortality rates among African Americans than whites may represent differences in the underlying pathophysiology of CHF in these groups or differences in access to quality care. Further studies are needed to explain these seemingly paradoxical outcomes.