Background: The incidence of congestive heart failure (CHF) has increased due, in part, to an aging population and improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of myocardial infarction. This has been reported internationally but no systematic epidemiological assessment of CHF has been conducted for Canada nationally.
Objectives: To estimate length of stay, mortality and readmission rates and projected number of future CHF hospital patients.
Methods: Health insurance numbers were used to link all hospital visits for 1996/97 CHF patients who had no CHF discharges within the previous two years. All patients were followed up for one year from the date of their initial visit.
Results: The numbers of males and females in the study were similar: 40,958 males and 42,255 females. Within the first year, CHF patients used an average of 26.9 hospital days and nearly 50% were readmitted to hospital. Within the index episode, 16.5% of the CHF patients died in hospital. Under the age of 70, female patients had higher mortality than males, while after the age of 70, males were more likely to die. The number of CHF incident hospital cases per year is projected to more than double by the year 2025. To keep the current number of incident patients the same as in 1996/97, the incidence of would have to decrease by 2.6% per year.
Conclusions: Patients admitted with CHF have high rates of mortality and prolonged and recurrent hospitalization. If the current rates are not reduced, health care costs related to CHF could increase substantially.