Sunday, October 23, 2011

Heart Failure Hospitalizations Decline – First Ever Documented Decline

Heart Failure is when the heart is unable to pump blood out of the heart efficiently and then fluid backs up into the heart and lungs.  Heart failure occurs from damage to the heart.   Two of the biggest contributors to heart failure are heart attack and high blood pressure.  If a heart pumps against increased pressure for a long period of time the wall of the heart thickens and the heart swells causing an enlarged heart.  Many people do not want to treat their high blood pressure because they don’t feel any different with high blood pressure and would prefer not to be on prescription medications.  Usually what would take 1 or 2 medications to control blood pressure could lead to having to take 5 medications or more to control heart failure later.

The decline in heart failure hospitalizations was reported in the October 19th issue of the Journal of the American MedicalAssociation.   Heart Failure hospitalizations dropped 29.5% nationally over the past decade.  This occurred from 1998 to 2008 as documented through fee for service Medicare claims analysis done by Dr. Jersey Chen and colleagues of Yale University.  This is the first ever documented decline in heart failure hospitalizations in the United States and is reported to have saved $4.1 billion in Medicare costs since 1998.

Reasons given for the decline are better control of risk factors, particularly modest improvements in blood pressure control, better evidence based therapies for heart failure treatment and shift towards better outpatient management.  There is still a lot of work to do to further lower not only heart failure hospitalizations; but, also to lower heart failure incidences. 
Do you know your risk factors for heart failure?  Do you know your blood pressure numbers?  Be an active participant in your health…know your numbers and prevent heart disease in your life.  Click here for simple lifestyle modificationsto help lower blood pressure.  If you have high blood pressure; see your health care provider for optimal recommendations for treatment.

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