The achy, breaky heart

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Kaitlyn Dmyterko, senior writer

Breaking down the burden of heart failure (HF) was all the rage at the 15th annual Heart Failure Society of America’s (HFSA) scientific sessions held this week in Boston. Thought leaders from across the U.S. met to brainstorm on how HF readmission can be prevented and how clinical tools and proteins, like Galectin-3, can better predict HF. While many agreed that HF care has improved, the cost burden from HF readmissions remains a major problem that needs to be improved upon.

While mortality in the advanced HF population continues to be high, researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center have formulated an inexpensive measurement tool that they say may be able to stratify mortality risk in HF patients implanted with ICDs. The risk score, which is detected by the risk profiling tool, is based on a patient’s age, blood counts and metabolic profiles. The tool, they say, could help refine patient selection and improve post-ICD survival.

Additionally, Scott L. Hummel, MD, said that knowing a patient's previous hospitalization history can impact long-term mortality, however, he said that this differs by baseline risk. Hummel said that obtaining this information is easy and could help better allocate specialized HF resources to subsets of patients in need. During the study, the EFFECT model was used to classify patients and could predict one-year mortality.

Heart failure readmission was also a hot topic at this week’s meeting. In fact, Karen E. Joynt, MD, noted that the way readmissions are currently measured may not reflect the abundance of racial disparities within the system. She suggested that there may be a large disconnect between public policy, expectations and what is going on in the community in terms of socioeconomic factors. She concluded that hospitals and those in the field must “be mindful of disparities,” and said that these must be taken into consideration when accounting for the number of readmissions.

While many of the presentations outlined the problems within the world of HF—high costs, readmissions and mortality—most were unaware of a solution. While some put forth predictive tools or assessments that could help depict patients at a heightened risk for readmission, it remains unknown as to what the overarching solution should be for this large problem.

What are your best strategies for curbing HF readmission? Email me and let me know.

Kaitlyn Dmyterko
Cardiovascular Business, senior writer