News | April 10, 2008

Study Finds Fewer Heart Attacks, Related Hospital Admissions

April 11, 2008 - The incidence and hospital admissions for a heart attack in the Medicare population have dramatically declined since 2000, more than offsetting rising costs for hospital care, according to a new study by Cardiac Data Solutions Inc.

Cardiac Data Solutions analyzed data from any U.S. hospital participating in the Medicare program to identify trends in the incidence, outcomes and costs for a ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI heart attack, from 2000-2006. A STEMI heart attack is caused by a prolonged period of blocked arterial blood supply and causes changes on the ECG and in blood levels of key chemical markers

The study showed total annual Medicare spending on related hospitalizations has declined annually since 2002. The study further concluded that the Medicare program saved more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2006 due to the lower heart attack rate and fewer admissions.

“While we didn’t examine the factors for drops in heart attack incidence and admissions, we can theorize that things like healthier nutrition, lipid lowering drugs, lower smoking rates and increased physical activity, combined with advancements in technology and improved chronic disease management, may explain these positive results,” said Aaron Kugelmass, M.D., director of cardiac catheterization at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and lead author of the findings.

The study was presented at the 57th annual American College of Cardiology (ACC) conference in Chicago.

Key findings in the study are:

- Admissions dropped to 105,915 in 2006 from 170,154 in 2000.
- Incidence dropped to 2.5 percent in 2006 from 4.3 percent in 2000.
- Survival rates increased to 88.5 percent in 2006 from 85.8 percent in 2000.
- The average hospital reimbursement for a STEMI hospitalization increased 5.5 percent annually during the study period (FY2000-FY2006), reaching $16,000 per discharge during FY 2006.
- Medicare cost savings rose to $1.2 billion in 2006 from $136 million in 2001.

In addition to Dr. Kugelmass, researchers involved in the study included: April Simon, RN, MSN, Philip Brown, M.D., cardiovascular surgeon (retired) and past chairman, Department of Surgery, Centennial Medical Center; David J. Cohen, M.D., interventional cardiologist and director, cardiovascular research, Mid America Heart Institute, St. Luke’s Hospital; Matthew R. Reynolds, M.D., electrophysiologist and director, economics and quality of life core lab, Harvard Clinical Research Institute, and Steven D. Culler, Ph.D., associate professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.

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