Research Highlights:

  • Almost 10% of U.S. heart attack patients receive home health care after hospital discharge.
  • Older patients, women and people with diabetes or heart failure are more likely to receive home health care.
  • Use of home health care may be associated with lower 30-day hospital readmission rates for heart attack patients.

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DALLAS, May 15, 2020 — Patients who receive home health care after a heart attack are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after discharge, according to research presented today at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care & Outcomes Research (QCOR) Scientific Sessions 2020. The QCOR Scientific Sessions is a virtual event in 2020, to be held May 15-17, and is a premier global exchange of the latest advances in quality of care and outcomes research in cardiovascular disease and stroke for researchers, health care professionals and policymakers.

Home health care, such as nursing and physical therapy, is a vital support tool to transition patients after hospital discharge. In the United States, only a small proportion of patients receive home health care after a heart attack, and these patients are mostly older, female or have underlying health conditions.

“Little is known regarding the impact of home health care on heart attack patients,” said Muhammad Adil Sheikh, M.B.B.S., clinical assistant professor and hospitalist at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Since patients who receive home health care tend to be older and sicker than others, and these characteristics themselves can lead to hospital readmission, we wanted to investigate the impact of home health care alone on readmission.”

The study used the National Readmission Database to identify more than 400,000 patients who were treated for a heart attack and discharged from the hospital either with or without home health care. Researchers found that 9.4%, or 38,215 patients, received home health care. Among the findings, patients who received home health care after a heart attack:

  • were an average age of 77, compared to the average age of 60 for patients who did not receive home health care;
  • were more likely to have previous underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure and/or vascular disease;
  • however, after adjusting for the above factors, home health care patients were 11% less likely to be readmitted to a hospital within 30-days of discharge compared to those who did not receive home healthcare.

“Since hospital readmissions are costly due to the expenses associated with hospitalization, using home health care after discharge for heart attack patients can reduce health care costs for patients and medical systems,” said Sheikh. “We found that home health care after hospital discharge was associated with lower 30-day readmission rates, and patients who received home health care are older, female or have underlying medical conditions. These patients are likely to benefit the most from home health care, and this service should be utilized more often to potentially reduce hospital readmission rates.”

Co-authors are David Ngendahimana, Ph.D.; Salil V. Deo, M.D.; Sajjad Raza, M.D.; Salah Altarabsheh, M.D.; Grant William Reed, M.D.; Ankua Kalra, M.D.; Samir R Kapadia, M.D.; and Kim Eagle, M.D. Author disclosures are in the manuscript. This study reported no external funding sources.

Additional Resources:

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