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MONDAY, Aug. 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Many acute heart failure patients make repeated visits to emergency departments, which suggests they need better outpatient care, researchers report.
Improved care would lead to lower health care costs, the researchers added.
They looked at more than 113,000 adult patients in California and Florida who made at least one emergency department visit in 2010 for acute heart failure syndrome, an increase in heart failure symptoms that requires urgent care.
Of those patients, 30 percent returned to the emergency department (ED) at least once during the next 12 months, according to the study published Aug. 25 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
Patients most likely to make return visits were black or Hispanic, low-income and covered by Medicaid.
"The high proportion of patients with frequent ED visits reflects the failure of current measures to manage heart failure symptoms," study corresponding author Dr. Kohei Hasegawa, from the department of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in a hospital news release.
The study found that acute heart failure syndrome accounts for more than 675,000 ED visits and 1 million hospitalizations in the United States each year.
"We estimate that prevention of repeat ED visits by high-quality outpatient care of heart failure symptoms would reduce almost 62,000 ED visits and more than 52,000 hospital admissions in both states, saving more than $1 billion in Florida alone," Hasegawa said.
To improve care, further research is needed to pinpoint the factors linked with frequent ED visits for these patients, the researchers said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, Aug. 19, 2014