Study: Number of Heart Attacks Lower, Deaths Higher

Apr 26, 2001, 01:00 ET from University of Colorado Hospital

    DENVER, April 26 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- An eight-state
 study of hospital discharge data shows that the number of acute heart attacks
 in the United States may be vastly over-estimated.  The study, which will be
 published in the May issue of the research journal "Medical Care," found that
 10 percent to 15 percent of heart attack patients may be counted twice, due to
 being transferred to specialty facilities -- and the rate may be twice that in
 rural areas.
     This double-counting of heart attack patients has another facet affecting
 the outcome of heart attacks, according to researchers at the University of
 Colorado Health Sciences Center -- a greater percentage of people who have
 heart attacks die from it than previously reported.
     "Our data indicates that double counting patients has resulted in a
 significant overestimation in the incidence rate for hospitalization for acute
 heart attacks," said the study's lead author, Jack Westfall, MD, associate
 professor of family medicine at CU-Health Sciences Center.  "When the data is
 corrected, we find a much lower incidence rate and a higher in-hospital
 mortality rate."
     Additionally, patients who are transferred from one facility to another,
 and therefore counted twice, are typically in a more acute state, further
 introducing a bias into heart attack outcome studies.
     More than 1 million people are hospitalized with ischemic heart disease
 resulting in heart attacks each year, and nearly half of them die.  Recent
 studies of hospitalization for heart disease report inconsistent findings --
 some report a decrease while others an increase or little change over the last
 30 years.
     "Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United
 States," Dr. Westfall added.  "We think this study will help explain some of
 the inconsistent findings recently published on the incidence of
 hospitalization for this condition, especially in rural regions, where the
 likelihood that a patient will be transferred to an urban center for care is
 much higher."
     Dr. Westfall and his colleagues estimate that there are about
 100,000 - 200,000 fewer heart attacks each year in the United States than
 previously reported.  The study analyzed hospital discharge data from
 Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and
 Illinois for 1995 - 1997.
     The study was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
 and the Colorado Heart Consortium.  It can be accessed at
 www.lww-medicalcare.com on 4/26.
 
     The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center is one of four campuses
 in the University of Colorado system.  Located in Denver, Colo., the campus
 includes schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry, a graduate
 school and two hospitals.
 
     For further information, please contact Sarah Ellis of the University of
 Colorado Hospital, 303-315-5571.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X22846903
 
 

SOURCE University of Colorado Hospital
    DENVER, April 26 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- An eight-state
 study of hospital discharge data shows that the number of acute heart attacks
 in the United States may be vastly over-estimated.  The study, which will be
 published in the May issue of the research journal "Medical Care," found that
 10 percent to 15 percent of heart attack patients may be counted twice, due to
 being transferred to specialty facilities -- and the rate may be twice that in
 rural areas.
     This double-counting of heart attack patients has another facet affecting
 the outcome of heart attacks, according to researchers at the University of
 Colorado Health Sciences Center -- a greater percentage of people who have
 heart attacks die from it than previously reported.
     "Our data indicates that double counting patients has resulted in a
 significant overestimation in the incidence rate for hospitalization for acute
 heart attacks," said the study's lead author, Jack Westfall, MD, associate
 professor of family medicine at CU-Health Sciences Center.  "When the data is
 corrected, we find a much lower incidence rate and a higher in-hospital
 mortality rate."
     Additionally, patients who are transferred from one facility to another,
 and therefore counted twice, are typically in a more acute state, further
 introducing a bias into heart attack outcome studies.
     More than 1 million people are hospitalized with ischemic heart disease
 resulting in heart attacks each year, and nearly half of them die.  Recent
 studies of hospitalization for heart disease report inconsistent findings --
 some report a decrease while others an increase or little change over the last
 30 years.
     "Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United
 States," Dr. Westfall added.  "We think this study will help explain some of
 the inconsistent findings recently published on the incidence of
 hospitalization for this condition, especially in rural regions, where the
 likelihood that a patient will be transferred to an urban center for care is
 much higher."
     Dr. Westfall and his colleagues estimate that there are about
 100,000 - 200,000 fewer heart attacks each year in the United States than
 previously reported.  The study analyzed hospital discharge data from
 Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and
 Illinois for 1995 - 1997.
     The study was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
 and the Colorado Heart Consortium.  It can be accessed at
 www.lww-medicalcare.com on 4/26.
 
     The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center is one of four campuses
 in the University of Colorado system.  Located in Denver, Colo., the campus
 includes schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry, a graduate
 school and two hospitals.
 
     For further information, please contact Sarah Ellis of the University of
 Colorado Hospital, 303-315-5571.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X22846903
 
 SOURCE  University of Colorado Hospital