Feature | August 21, 2014

Study Results Show Heart Disease Deaths Dropped Significantly in Past Decade

August 21, 2014 — Efforts over the past decade to improve the quality of care for cardiovascular disease patients and increase the use of evidence-based treatments have led to a significant drop in the rate of hospitalizations and deaths, according to a new study released in the journal Circulation. The results emphasize the value of recent efforts by the cardiovascular community to support the delivery of timely, high-quality care to patients.

The study, “Trends in Hospitalizations and Outcomes for Acute Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke: 1999-2011,” confirms that in the past decade hospitalization and death rates for heart disease and stroke have continued their significant declines despite the lack of any new practice-changing drug or biological treatments introduced over this same time period. According to the study’s authors, the new report is the most comprehensive look at America’s progress in preventing and treating heart disease to date. The study found U.S. hospitalization rates dropped significantly for cardiovascular disease patients from 1999-2011, including:

  • 38 percent drop among heart attack patients;
  • 83.8 percent decline among patients with unstable angina, or sudden and severe chest pain that may lead to a heart attack; and
  • The risk of dying within one year of hospitalization also dropped 21 percent for patients with unstable angina and 23 percent for heart attack patients.


“These declines coincide with rapid changes in attitudes about lifestyle, diet, exercise and smoking, at a time when cardiovascular medicine is leading the way in supporting evidence-based care through the use of data registries,” said Patrick O’Gara, M.D., FACC, president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC).Our goal is to see that these trends continue by encouraging healthy lifestyles and also by our support of performance measures for the entire cardiovascular team.”

“The new report shows we are continuing to make significant progress in improving heart disease outcomes as quality improvement initiatives expand,” said Charles Chambers, M.D., FSCAI, president of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) for 2014-15. “This is good news for patients and for the caregivers working hard to continuously improve care.”

The study was based on data from 34 million Medicare fee-for-service claims from 1999 through 2011. Researchers reviewed trends in hospitalization, dying within a month of admission, readmission within one month and dying within one year. They also compared patient demographics including age, sex, race, geography and co-existing conditions.

“The report shows cardiovascular outcomes are improving, to a point where one day, as the authors state, we may be able to remove cardiovascular disease from among the top causes of death and disability in this country,” Chambers said. “To make this a reality, it will be important to continue to work together and to ensure quality initiatives are implemented nationwide.”

For more information: www.scai.org, www.cardiosource.org/acc

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