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How much does heart failure cost in the United States?

The American Heart Association estimated in 2008 that the cost of heart failure in the United States would exceed $35 million.

A large percentage of healthcare costs relating to heart failure occur because of a need to hospitalize patients. A National Hospital Discharge Survey shows that hospitalizations for heart failure increased from more than 400,000 to more than 1.1 million in 2004, making up nearly 2 percent of total hospital admissions in the United States.

Among people on Medicare, heart failure is the most common reason for hospitalization, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It accounts for nearly 800,000 hospitalizations annually. On average, heart failure patients stay at the hospital for six days. Initial admissions are not the only issue. About 50 percent of heart failure patients are back in the hospital again within six months.

Besides healthcare expenses, there is a human cost associated with heart failure. It is more difficult for patients to perform normal daily activities. A recent study by scientists at the University of Michigan Health System and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System examined these costs. The study included responses on surveys from 10,626 heart failure patients, age 65 years or older.

Survey results revealed that people with heart failure, when compared to people without the condition, were much more likely to be disabled and much more likely to encounter difficulty in daily living activities.

They also were more likely to be living in a nursing home, to have been in a nursing home within the past two years, to receive home care and to have experienced clinical conditions that occur more frequently in older adults, such as hurting oneself from a fall, dementia, or urinary incontinence.

Healthcare costs related to heart failure are estimated at more than $39 billion per year. The bulk of this cost is actually related to hospitalization of patients with congestive heart failure. The overall number affected with heart failure is over 5.5 million patients within the United States and 550,000 patients have a new diagnosis of heart failure which drives this cost. Yearly, over 250,000 patients die of heart failure. Many of these individuals incur significant cost during the last days of their lives within the hospital.

Efforts to decrease hospitalization include disease management centers (heart failure centers) and device therapies such as implantable cardioverter-defibrillator systems, external telemonitoring units placed in a patient’s house, and implantable pressure sensors (some currently in trials). Utilization of some or all of these strategies on an individualized basis may be effective to decrease rehospitalization for heart failure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.