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Aug 25, 2014

Drop in Hospitalizations for Heart Disease and Stroke

There have been significant improvements in the treatment and prevention of heart disease in the past decade, based on national hospital trends.

We’ve made significant improvements in the treatment and prevention of heart disease in the past decade, according to national trends published in the medical journal Circulation

This study used national Medicare data to identify key trends related to heart disease from 1999–2011. Although heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, advancements in medicine have helped patients better prevent and manage heart disease in recent years. 

During the 12-year study period, researchers found that hospitalizations for heart attacks decreased by 38% and hospitalizations for stroke declined by 34%. Hospitalizations for unstable angina, a type of chest discomfort that can lead to a heart attack, also decreased by 84% and heart failure hospitalizations decreased by 31%. During the same period, risk of death after being hospitalized for these conditions decreased significantly. 

Authors believe these trends are due to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions, as well as healthy lifestyle changes. Throughout the last few decades, we’ve learned more than ever before about the prevention and treatment of heart disease. As we implement changes based on lessons learned, outcomes have also improved, as demonstrated in this study. Authors hope that through future quality improvement initiatives, we can continue to improve both quality of life and outcomes for patients with heart disease.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What are quality improvement initiatives in health care?
  • Quality improvement initiatives are designed to improve the quality of care that patients receive. The goals of such programs are to ensure the highest possible standard of care and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.
  • What are the traditional risk factors for heart disease?
  • Through decades of research, we’ve learned that certain factors increase risk for heart disease—some of which we can control and a few of which we can’t. Modifiable risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity and poor diet. Risk factors that we can’t control include age, gender, race or ethnicity and family history of heart disease. It’s important to address risk factors that we can control to help prevent heart disease.

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