Purpose: Most of the recent information on the prognosis of patients with heart failure has come from large clinical trials or tertiary care centers. This study reports current information from a community hospital-based heart failure registry.
Subjects and methods: We compiled data from 2,906 unselected consecutive patients with heart failure who were admitted to 10 acute care community hospitals in New York State between 1995 and 1997. Patients were followed prospectively for 6 months after hospital discharge or until their death.
Results: The mean (+/- SI)) age of the sample was 76 +/- 11 years. The majority of the patients were women (56%) and most were white (95%). Hospital length of stay averaged 7.4 +/- 7.6 days; hospital charges averaged $7,460 +/- $6,114. Mortality during the index admission was 5%. Among the 2,508 patients for whom mortality or follow-up data were available, an additional 411 died during follow-up, for a cumulative 6-month mortality of 23%. Progressive pump failure was the predominant cause of death in the hospital and after discharge. Although mean functional class (on a 1 to 4 scale) improved from 3.4 +/- 0.7 at hospital admission to 2.3 +/- 0.9 at 1 month after discharge, 43% of patients had at least one hospital readmission during follow-up and 25% had at least one recurrent admission for heart failure. The mean time from index discharge to first rehospitalization was 60 +/- 56 days. In all, 55% of patients (1,370 of 2,508) were rehospitalized or died during the study period.
Conclusions: Despite advances in the management of heart failure, patients recently hospitalized for this disorder remain at high risk of death, hospital readmission, and poor clinical outcome. Discovery or implementation of new or existing methods of prevention and treatment remain a high priority.