Aims: Chronic heart failure (CHF) patients are frequently rehospitalized within 6 months after an episode of fluid retention. Rehospitalizations are preventable, but this requires an extensive organization of the healthcare system. In this study, we tested whether intensive follow-up of patients through a telemonitoring-facilitated collaboration between general practitioners (GPs) and a heart failure clinic could reduce mortality and rehospitalization rate.
Methods and results: One hunderd and sixty CHF patients [mean age 76 ± 10 years, 104 males, mean left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) 35 ± 15%] were block randomized by sealed envelopes and assigned to 6 months of intense follow-up facilitated by telemonitoring (TM) or usual care (UC). The TM group measured body weight, blood pressure, and heart rate on a daily basis with electronic devices that transferred the data automatically to an online database. Email alerts were sent to the GP and heart failure clinic to intervene when pre-defined limits were exceeded. All-cause mortality was significantly lower in the TM group as compared with the UC group (5% vs. 17.5%, P = 0.01). The total number of follow-up days lost to hospitalization, dialysis, or death was significantly lower in the TM group as compared with the UC group (13 vs. 30 days, P = 0.02). The number of hospitalizations for heart failure per patient showed a trend (0.24 vs. 0.42 hospitalizations/patient, P = 0.06) in favour of TM.
Conclusion: Telemonitoring-facilitated collaboration between GPs and a heart failure clinic reduces mortality and number of days lost to hospitalization, death, or dialysis in CHF patients. These findings need confirmation in a large trial.