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Noncardiovascular comorbidities spike in acute heart failure



– Patients hospitalized for heart failure increasingly present with a growing number of noncardiovascular comorbidities, according to registry data from more than 300 U.S. hospitals.

During the decade of 2005-2014, the percentage of patients hospitalized for heart failure diagnosed with three or more noncardiovascular comorbidities (NCCs) jumped from abut 17% of these patients in 2005 to about 28% in 2015, Abhinav Sharma, MD, said at a meeting held by the Heart Failure Association of the ESC. This increase occurred as the percentages of hospitalized heart failure patients with none or one NCC showed clear decreases.

Dr. Abhinav Sharma Mitchel L. Zoler/Frontline Medical News

Dr. Abhinav Sharma

This time trend suggests that clinicians should be on the lookout for NCCs in patients admitted for heart failure, and that “strategies to address the growing burden of noncardiovascular comorbidities may be a way to improve outcomes,” said Dr. Sharma, a cardiologist at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

U.S. patients hospitalized for heart failure “appear to now be sicker and more medically complex. Probably, a large number of the noncardiovascular comorbidities are not being recognized when the focus is on treating the patient’s heart failure,” he said in an interview. “If we can identify the noncardiovascular comorbidities and target appropriate treatment, it may potentially decrease the risk of readmissions.”

He included five NCCs in his analysis: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, anemia, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and obesity.

His analysis showed that a higher rate of readmissions, as well as increased mortality both in hospital and during the 30 days following discharge, are outcomes that all connect with increased numbers of NCCs. Patients with three or more NCCs at the time of their heart failure admission were about 50% more likely to die in hospital, about 65% more likely to die during the 30 days following admission, about 35% more likely to be readmitted, and about half as likely to be discharged home following hospitalization, when compared with patients with no NCC in multivariate analyses that adjusted for demographic and other clinical variables. Patients with three or more NCCs were also about 67% more likely to have an index hospitalization of at least 4 days, compared with patients with no NCC.

Dr. Sharma speculated that the increased prevalence of multiple NCCs in acute heart failure patients may result, in part, from secular trends in the rates of diabetes and obesity and the noncardiovascular comorbidities associated with these conditions. All five of the NCCs included in his analysis showed increased prevalence rates from 2005 to 2014 in the patients he studied. The biggest jump occurred in the prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which rose from about 27% in 2005 to about 35% in 2014.

His study used data collected in the Get With the Guidelines–Heart Failure Registry, which began in 2005, and included just under 208,000 total patients. He acknowledged that it is hard to know how representative these patients are of the entire population of U.S. patients hospitalized for heart failure during the study period, because the patients he studied came from a self-selected group of more than 300 hospitals that opted to participate in the registry. “We need to see if this can be extrapolated to all U.S. hospitals,” Dr. Sharma said.

On Twitter @mitchelzoler

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