home health care after heart failure

Home health care after heart failure found to be associated with lower risk of mortality and readmission to hospital.

Heart failure occurs when the heart has trouble pumping blood efficiently to support other organs in the body.  According to the heart and stroke foundation, 600,000 Canadians are living with heart failure.  The main cause of heart failure is a heart attack and the second major cause is hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.  Patients living with heart failure may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath when they exert themselves, chest pain, swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, and abdomen, tiredness, and loss of energy. A tool that may help patients with heart failure is home health care.  Home health care is provided by a nurse or skilled health care professional at home.

Readmission rates were lower in patients who received home health care

In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers found that readmission rates for heart failure patients discharged from skilled nursing facilities were lower for patients who received home health care.  The median readmission time was eleven days for patients that received home health care after discharge and nine days for those that did not receive home health care.  The thirty-day readmission rates were 22.8% for those that received home health care and 24.5% for patients that did not.

Mortality rates were lower in heart failure patients that received home care

Only 3.1% of heart failure patients that received home care died within 30 days of discharge, compared with 4.1% of heart failure patients that did not receive home health care.  What is interesting to the researchers is that those patients who received home health care had more “functional impairments”.  This means that while home care was given to those heart failure patients that had worse health, their outcome turned out better because they were discharged with home care.  The additional skilled support from home health care could increase adherence to medication, dietary recommendations, and other discharge instructions.  In fact, home care was so helpful that the researchers questioned why more heart failure patients had not been discharged with home health care.

Heart failure is becoming more common worldwide, with heart disease being the leading cause of death among both men and women. The results of the study suggest that home health care is beneficial for reducing readmission and improving outcomes in heart failure patients following hospitalization.

 

Written by Katrina F. Zafer, BSc

 

References

  1. Weerahandi, H., Bao, H., Herrin, J., Dharmarajan, K., Ross, J. S., Jones, S., Horwitz, L. I. (2019). Home Health Care After Skilled Nursing Facility Discharge Following Heart Failure Hospitalization. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 
  2. Heart and Stroke Foundation.  https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/conditions/heart-failure

 

 

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