Shorter Hospital Stays May be to Blame for Heart Attack Patient Readmission

Shorter Hospital Stays May be to Blame for Heart Attack Patient ReadmissionA new study has shown that those in the United States who have heart attacks are much more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within one month than people who experience heart attacks in 16 other countries, according to HealthDay.

Researchers suspect that the cause for high readmission rates could be attributed to the average length of stay in America, which was just three days, compared to at least six days in other countries. After completing the analysis and adjusting for length of stay, the scientists determined location was not a factor in readmission.

"We found two striking predictors of 30-day readmission. Having multi-vessel disease and being in the U.S," said study senior author Dr. Manesh Patel, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "This difference is probably multifactorial, but the length of stay is the shortest in the U.S. It was three days here and six, seven or more in other countries."

Patel added that once the team adjusted for length of stay, the difference disappeared. The U.S. provides more successful surgery to open up arteries, but post-surgery care could be the reason for more readmissions after heart attack.

"We need to make the link from the hospital to the primary care doctor to ensure that patients are getting set up in cardiac rehab and that they're following up with a cardiologist," he said.

In the U.S., 30-day readmission rates were 14.5 percent, compared to 9.9 percent in other countries that took part in the study. In Germany, the average stay was eight days, the longest anywhere in the world.

According to the Lung Heart and Blood Institute, coronary heart disease treatment must be sought after a heart attack, as this will help prevent a similar problem in the future. Follow-ups often include guidance on lifestyle changes, medicines to control chest pain or discomfort, or a cardiac rehabilitation program.

"[The U.S. has] the technology and the ability to provide quality care, but we're just not doing well," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. "Even for the sickest patients, we're not doing well."