In-hospital management of heart failure: in 10 years we have improved, but not enough
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- Ferretto, S., Dalla Valle, C., Cukon Buttignoni, S. et al. Intern Emerg Med (2011) 6: 235. doi:10.1007/s11739-010-0493-3
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It is well recognized that the majority of patients with heart failure (HF) are admitted to General Medicine Departments (GMDs), and that the recommendations of the international guidelines for the treatment of HF are often incorrectly applied in hospital practice. We evaluated the treatment of patients with HF discharged from a single hospital over a period of 10 years. The study population comprised two series of patients who were discharged from six GMDs of a single hospital with the diagnosis of HF in the first 2 months of 1998 and 2008. The patients were also divided in two groups on the basis of the type of HF, systolic or diastolic. In 10 years, the number of patients who were discharged with the diagnosis of HF increased, the median age rose from 79 to 82 years and diastolic has become the more common type of HF. The prevalence of comorbidities rose significantly. There was an increased use of ACE-inhibitors and betablockers, and a reduction of digoxin and nitrates. The mortality decreased from 16.7% in 1998 to 9.6% in 2008 (p < 0.02) and hospitalizations became shorter (p < 0.05) considering patients with systolic HF (EF ≤ 45%) the median age rose from 74 to 79 years old (p < 0.01). We recorded an increasing use of betablockers, a reduction in the prescription of digoxin. The percentage of Diastolic HF rose from 55.7% in 1998 to 65.0% in 2008 (p < 0.001). The median age of these patients changed from 79 to 82 years old (p < 0.05). In 10 years, the clinical characteristics and management of HF patients who are hospitalized have changed. Pharmacological treatment has improved, but it still remains far from being adequately compliant with guideline recommendations.