Background: In the United States, heart failure has emerged as the leading first-listed diagnosis among hospitalized older adults.
Methods: The number and prevalence of hospitalizations, procedure use, and discharge outcomes for men and women aged >/=35 years hospitalized with heart failure were estimated from National Hospital Discharge Survey data for the years 1985 through 1995.
Results: In 10 years, the number of hospitalizations increased from 577,000 to 871,000 for a first-listed diagnosis and from 1.7 to 2.6 million for any diagnosis of heart failure. Almost 78% of men and 85% of women hospitalized with heart failure were aged >/=65 years. Among persons hospitalized with any diagnosis of heart failure, in-hospital mortality rate decreased from 1985 to 1995 whereas prevalence of discharge to long-term care increased. In 1995, 67% of male patients were discharged home, 12% were discharged to long-term care, and 8% died during hospitalization; the corresponding values for female patients were 58%, 21%, and 8%. Men had twice the prevalence of invasive cardiac procedures as did women during hospitalization.
Conclusions: The growing burden of heart failure can be expected to increase during the next decade unless innovative interventions and primary and secondary prevention strategies are implemented.