Patterns of medical resource use near the end of life may differ across modes of death. The aim of this study was to characterize patterns of inpatient resource use and direct costs for patients with heart failure (HF) who died of sudden cardiac death (SCD), HF, other cardiovascular causes, or noncardiovascular causes during the last year of life. Data were from a randomized trial of exercise training in patients with HF. Mode of death was adjudicated by an end point committee. Generalized estimating equations were used to compare hospitalizations, inpatient days, and inpatient costs incurred during the final year of life in patients who died of different causes, adjusting for clinical and treatment characteristics. Of 2,331 patients enrolled in the trial, 231 died after ≥1 year of follow-up with an adjudicated mode of death, including 72 of SCD, 80 of HF, 34 of other cardiovascular causes, and 45 of noncardiovascular causes. Patients who died of SCD were younger, had less severe HF, and incurred fewer hospitalizations, fewer inpatient days, and lower inpatient costs than patients who died of other causes. After adjustment for patient characteristics, inpatient resource use varied by 2 to 4 times across modes of death, suggesting that cost-effectiveness analyses of interventions that reduce mortality from SCD compared to other causes should incorporate mode-specific end-of-life costs. In conclusion, resource use and associated medical costs in the last year of life differed markedly in patients with HF who experienced SCD and patients who died of other causes.
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