Background: Hospitalization for heart failure (HF) is associated with increased risk of death among patients with chronic HF. The degree to which hospitalization for HF is a distinct biologic entity with independent prognostic value versus a marker of higher risk chronic HF patients is unclear.
Methods: After excluding patients with new-onset HF, the ASCEND-HF trial (Acute Study of Clinical Effectiveness of Nesiritide in Decompensated Heart Failure) included 4205 patients hospitalized for worsening chronic HF with reduced or preserved ejection fraction. The present analysis compared patients by presence or absence of prior HF hospitalization within 12 months and by timing of prior HF hospitalization relative to index hospitalization. Associations with 180-day all-cause mortality were assessed, including adjustment for 27 prespecified clinical factors.
Results: Overall, 2241 (53.3%) patients had a HF hospitalization within the prior 12 months and 1964 (46.7%) did not. Mortality rates at 180 days were 15.5% and 11.9%, respectively. In unadjusted analyses, prior HF hospitalization was associated with increased risk of 180-day mortality (HR, 1.35 [95% CI, 1.14-1.59]; P<0.01). After adjustment, the point estimate was attenuated and the association not statistically significant (HR, 1.18 [95% CI, 0.99-1.40]; P=0.064). Similarly, after adjustment, compared with patients without prior hospitalization, prior HF hospitalization was not associated with mortality, irrespective of timing (0-4 months: HR, 1.10 [95% CI, 0.87-1.39], P=0.41; 4-8 months: HR, 0.95 [95% CI, 0.70-1.27]; P=0.72; 8-12 months: HR, 1.06 [95% CI, 0.74-1.51], P=0.77; >12 months: HR, 0.81 [95% CI, 0.63-1.06], P=0.12).
Conclusions: In this cohort of patients hospitalized for worsening HF, prior HF hospitalization was not associated with 180-day mortality after comprehensively accounting for patient characteristics measured during the index patient visit. Clinical confounders measured at the point-of-care may explain previously observed associations between prior HF hospitalization and mortality, and these clinical factors may be a more direct means of predicting patient survival. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT00475852.
Keywords: heart failure; hospitalization; mortality; prognosis.