MONDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- One way for recently
discharged heart failure patients to boost their survival odds is
to see a doctor within the first month after leaving the hospital,
a new study finds.
And the survival advantage is higher among patients who see
their regular doctor rather than an unfamiliar one, according to
the report in the Aug. 19 issue of the
CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
For the study, researchers looked at data on more than 24,000
heart failure patients aged 20 and older who had been discharged
from hospitals in Alberta, Canada. Of those patients, 22 percent
did not see a doctor within the first month, 69 percent saw their
regular doctor, and 9 percent saw an unfamiliar doctor.
Patients who saw a doctor within a month of being discharged
from hospital were 3 percent to 8 percent less likely to die or be
readmitted to the hospital within three months to one year than
those who did not see a doctor, according to Dr. Finlay McAlister,
of the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and colleagues.
The investigators also found that patients who saw their regular
doctor had a significantly lower risk of death or hospital
readmission than those who saw an unfamiliar doctor.
The findings show "that physicians should strive to optimize
continuity with their heart failure patients after discharge, and
that strategies are needed in the health care system to ensure
early follow-up after discharge with the patient's regular
physician," the study authors concluded.
Heart failure is costly in terms of lives and money, the study
authors explained in a journal news release. It is one of the most
common causes of hospitalization, and has a high risk of
readmission and early death. And in the United States and Canada,
more than $20 billion per year is spent on patients who need to be
readmitted to hospital within a month of being discharged.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more