The rates of U.S. hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease and stroke patients dropped significantly in the last decade, more so than for any other condition. That’s according to a new study out of the Yale School of Medicine, which was published today in the journal Circulation.
The study was led by Yale researcher Dr. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and national American Heart Association volunteer. Krumholz said the drop was mainly due to a steady increase in the use of evidence-based treatments and medications, as well as a growing emphasis on heart-healthy lifestyles and behaviors.
Krumholz and colleagues examined data on nearly 34 million Medicare fee-for-service patients from 1999 to 2011 to see how many died within a month of being admitted, were admitted again within a month, and died during the following year. The team also factored in age, sex, race, other illnesses, and geography.
By the end of 2011, hospitalization rates among all races and areas dropped 38 percent for heart attack; 83.8 percent for unstable angina, sudden chest pain often leading to heart attack; 30.5 percent for heart failure; and 33.6 percent for ischemic stroke.
The team found that risks of dying for people hospitalized within a year decreased about 21 percent for unstable angina, 23 percent for heart attacks, and 13 percent for heart failure and stroke.
“Improved lifestyle, quality of care, and prevention strategies contributed to the decrease,” said Krumholz in a news release. He and the team also noted improvements in identifying and treating high blood pressure, a rapid rise in the use of statins, marked declines in smoking, and more timely and appropriate treatment for heart attack patients as contributing to the declines in deaths and hospitalizations.