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Keywords:

  • heart failure;
  • australia;
  • hospital separations;
  • case fatality;
  • trends;
  • length of stay

Abstract

Aim:

To assess trends in admissions of patients with heart failure (HF) to all hospitals in Australia between 1996–1997 and 2003–2004.

Methods and results:

We carried out a retrospective analysis of the official population-based National Hospital Morbidity Data in Australia. Although the absolute number of separations with a principal diagnosis of HF remained stable, the age- and sex-standardized separation rate for HF recorded as principal diagnosis decreased from 2.0 per 1000 population in 1996–1997 to 1.6 per 1000 population in 2003–2004. The corresponding values for HF recorded in any diagnostic position were 7.7 and 4.7 per 1000 population. Men had higher in-hospital mortality than women (8.9% versus 8.1%, p<0.001) and also a larger decrease in this measure over the study period (21.9% versus 14.4%). While the geometric mean length of stay for HF as principal diagnosis fell from 5.4days in 1996–1997 to 4.9days in 2003–2004, the proportion of bed-days related to such diagnoses relative to total bed days attributed to circulatory diseases increased from 12.8% to 13.7% (p<0.001).

Conclusion:

There were no increase in number of admissions involving HF and standardized rates of hospital separations with HF fell in Australia between 1996 and 2004. The explanation for the observed declines in in-hospital case fatality and the separation rates should be sought in whole-of-community studies.