Background: Despite a growing body of data demonstrating the benefits of multidisciplinary care in heart failure, persistently high rates of readmission, especially within the first month of discharge, continue to be documented.
Aims: As part of an ongoing randomized study on the value of multidisciplinary care in a high risk (NYHA Class IV), elderly (mean age 69 years) heart failure population, we examined the effects of this intervention on previously high (20%) 1-month readmission rates.
Methods: Unlike previous studies of this approach, both multidisciplinary (MC) and routine care (RC) populations were cared for by the cardiology service, complied with adherence to clinical stability criteria prior to discharge (100% of patients) and received at least target dose angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition with perindopril prior to discharge (94% of indicated patients). We analysed death and unplanned readmission for heart failure at 1 month.
Results: This early report from the first 70 patients (67% male, 71% systolic dysfunction with a mean ejection fraction of 31.0+/-6.7%) enrolled in this study demonstrates elimination of 1-month hospital readmission in both RC and MC groups. This unexpected result represents a dramatic improvement both for this patient cohort (20% 30-day readmission rate prior to enrollment reduced to 0% following the index admission in both care groups) and in comparison with available data.
Conclusions: Critical contributors to this improvement appear to be specialist cardiology care, adherence to clinical stability criteria prior to discharge and routine use of target or high-dose ACE inhibitor therapy prior to discharge. Widespread application of this approach may have a dramatic improvement in morbidity of CHF while limiting the escalating costs of this condition.