AHRQ: CAD falls to #3 most treated disease in hospitals, heart failure rises

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The number of Americans admitted to hospitals for treatment of coronary artery disease (CAD) declined by 31 percent between 1997 and 2007, according to statistics released Monday by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

As a result of this decrease, CAD no longer ranks as the leading disease treated in hospitals, and is now ranked number three.

According to the AHRQ analysis from 1997 to 2007:

  • Hospitalizations for heart attacks declined by 15 percent, falling from 732,000 to 625,000. Heart attacks are now ranked number 10 on the list of diseases treated in hospitals, down from number four.
  • Hospitalizations for stroke fell 14 percent, going from 616,000 to 527,000 and a drop in rank from number six to number 15.
  • In contrast, hospitalizations for irregular heart beat, such as atrial fibrillation or tachycardia rose by 28 percent from 572,000 to 731,000. Its rank stayed at number seven.
  • Also, hospitalizations for congestive heart failure rose by 3 percent, going from 991,000 to just more than one million. Its rank moved from number three to number two, behind pneumonia, the most common disease treated in hospitals in 2007.

The agency also found that diagnostic cardiac catheterization was performed on 890,000 males and 581,000 females in 2007, and ranked as the second most frequent procedure in men and the fourth most frequent procedure in women.

The overall AHRQ hospitalization findings revealed:

  • The number of hospital discharges increased from 34.7 million in 1997 to 39.5 million in 2007, a 14 percent increase overall, or an average increase of 1.3 percent annually.
  • The average length of stay in 2007 was 4.6 days—almost 20 percent shorter than in 1993, when it was 5.7 days. The average length of stay declined throughout most of the 1990s and has stabilized during the current decade.
  • Between 1997 and 2007, the aggregate inflation-adjusted costs for hospitalizations (the actual costs of producing hospital services) rose from $222.4 billion to $343.9 billion—an increase of 55 percent.
  • While people 65 years and older represented 13 percent of the population in 2007, they comprised 33 percent of all hospitalizations.

In 2007, costs for Medicare stays amounted to $156.0 billion and Medicaid stays accounted for $50.4 billion—a total of about 60 percent of aggregate hospital costs, AHRQ reported. Discharges billed to private insurance accounted for 31 percent ($107.8 billion), while the uninsured accounted for a much smaller share (5 percent, or $16.5 billion).