The major factor that determines the cost of treating heart failure is the high incidence of hospitalization. A large percentage of health care costs associated with heart failure are because of the need to hospitalize patients. Patients with heart failure are at high risk for hospitalization. Results of a National Hospital Discharge Survey show that the number of hospitalizations for heart failure has increased substantially, from more than 400,000 in 1979 to more than 1.1 million in 2004, accounting for almost 2 percent of all hospital admissions in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, among people on Medicare, heart failure is the most common reason for hospitalization (accounting for approximately 800,000 hospitalizations yearly). The average hospital stay for heart failure is about six days. Rehospitalization rates during the six months following discharge are as high as 50 percent.
The three main causes of hospitalization in patients with heart failure are fluid overload (55 percent), angina (chest pain) or heart attack (25 percent) and irregular heart rhythms (15 percent). Effective treatment for fluid overload is increasingly needed, not only to improve the prognosis of patients with heart failure but to improve their quality of life. Repeated hospitalizations bode poorly for a patient's prognosis and quality of life and also cause increased health care costs.
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