Objective: To define contemporary patterns of risk and management among patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).
Methods: Cross-sectional records audit of 4606 hospitalized patients with CHF in 1992 and 1993.
Results: Overall medication use was diuretics, 82%; angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, 53%; nitrates, 49%; digoxin, 46%; potassium, 40%; acetylsalicylic acid, 36%; calcium antagonists, 20%; warfarin, 17%; beta-blockers, 15%; and magnesium, 10%. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors were used less frequently in women and patients 70 years or older (P < .01). Total in-hospital mortality was 19%. The most common single cause of death was CHF progression, but noncardiac causes accounted for 30% of all deaths. Logistic regression analysis revealed age 70 years or older and the use of magnesium and nitrates to be associated with increased relative risk of in-hospital mortality; angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, acetylsalicylic acid, calcium antagonists, beta-blockers, and warfarin were associated with decreased risk.
Conclusions: Hospitalized patients with CHF have high all-cause mortality risk and less than optimal use of proven efficacious therapy, particularly among women and the elderly. Increased use of proven CHF therapy would likely decrease the risk of cardiac events, but the competing non-cardiac risks in this patient population are high and may not be affected by improved use of efficacious cardiac therapies.