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Preventable causative factors leading to hospital admission with decompensated heart failure


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.

  • chronic heart failure
  • hospital admission
  • decompensation

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