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Objective—To determine the distribution and importance of various factors, especially the preventable ones, that contribute to cardiac decompensation and subsequent hospital admission for heart failure.
Methods—During a one year period patients were prospectively recruited and evaluated during their hospital stay by means of a structured personal interview by trained medical staff and through clinical examination and laboratory investigation.
Setting—The cardiological department at a teaching affiliated general community hospital in Berlin, Germany.
Patients—Consecutive sample of 179 patients admitted to hospital with acute decompensation of pre-existing heart failure.
Main outcome measures—Proportional distribution of causative factors leading to hospital admission for heart failure; relative importance of preventable factors; details of patient compliance with diet and medication, and knowledge about medication.
Results—Mean (SD) age was 75.4 (9.9) years. Potential causative factors for decompensated heart failure were identified in 85.5% of patients. Lack of adherence to the medical regimen was the most commonly identified factor and was regarded as the cause of the cardiac decompensation in 41.9% of cases. Non-compliance with drugs was found in 23.5% of patients. Other factors related to hospital admission were coronary ischaemia (13.4%), cardiac arrhythmias (6.1%), uncontrolled hypertension (5.6%), and inadequate preadmission treatment (12.3%). In all, 54.2% of admissions could be regarded as preventable.
Conclusions—Many hospital admissions for decompensation of chronic heart failure in patients at a district hospital in Berlin are preventable. Measures are necessary to improve this situation and evaluation of programmes that include patient education, patient follow up, and physician training is needed.
Keywords: chronic heart failure; hospital admission; decompensation