Heart Failure :: A need to find alternative management strategies that improve outcomes, minimize suffering

Mark Russo, M.D., M.S., a researcher at Columbia University’s International Center for Health Outcomes and Innovation Research in New York will present findings from a study of the cost of medical management in chronic end-stage heart failure patients. The study found that despite the terminal nature of end-stage heart failure, costs and resource utilization increased dramatically as death approached.

Dr. Russo and his colleagues report that on average between $82,963 and $97,420 was spent treating these patients during their last 6 months of life, making end-stage heart failure many times more costly than other terminal diseases such as lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. These high costs were largely driven by in-hospital care.

In fact, chronic end-stage heart failure patients spent nearly 1 in 4 days in the hospital during their last 3 months of life. With between 60,000 and 100,000 people in the U.S. dying from end-stage heart failure each year, the researchers estimated that as much as $8 billion per year are spent on end-stage heart failure with less than 6 months to live. Researchers concluded that, despite the poor prognosis of these patients, this aggressive use of medical resources is more consistent with prolongation of life than palliation of disease.

Given these findings, Dr. Russo says clinicians and researchers must find alternative management strategies that improve outcomes, minimize suffering, and/or reduce expenditures.

Columbia University Medical Center scientists will present the latest research findings in a wide range of cardiovascular areas at the 2006 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago, Nov.12-15.

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