Acute heart failure admissions in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory: the NSW HF Snapshot Study

Phillip J. Newton, Patricia M Davidson, Christopher M Reid, Henry Krum, Christopher Hayward, David W. Sibbritt, Emily Banks, Peter S. MacDonald

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OBJECTIVE: The primary aim of the NSW Heart Failure (HF) Snapshot was to obtain a representative cross-sectional view of patients with acute HF and their management in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory hospitals.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A prospective audit of consecutive patients admitted to 24 participating hospitals in NSW and the ACT with a diagnosis of acute HF was conducted from 8 July 2013 to 8 August 2013.

RESULTS: A total of 811 participants were recruited (mean age, 77 ± 13 years; 58% were men; 42% had a left ventricular ejection fraction ≥ 50%). The median Charlson Comorbidity Index score was 3, with ischaemic heart disease (56%), renal disease (55%), diabetes (38%) and chronic lung disease (32%) the most frequent comorbidities; 71% of patients were assessed as frail. Intercurrent infection (22%), non-adherence to prescribed medication (5%) or to dietary or fluid restrictions (16%), and atrial fibrillation/flutter (15%) were the most commonly identified precipitants of HF. Initial treatment included intravenous diuretics (81%), oxygen therapy (87%), and bimodal positive airways pressure or continuous positive airways pressure ventilation (17%). During the index admission, 6% of patients died. The median length of stay in hospital was 6 days, but ranged between 3 and 12 days at different hospitals. Just over half the patients (59%) were referred to a multidisciplinary HF service. Discharge medications included angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers (59%), β-blockers (66%) and loop diuretics (88%).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients admitted to hospital with acute HF in NSW and the ACT were generally elderly and frail, with multiple comorbidities. Evidence-based therapies were underused, and there was substantial interhospital variation in the length of stay. We anticipate that the results of the HF Snapshot will inform the development of strategies for improving the uptake of evidence-based therapies, and hence outcomes, for HF patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113.e1-113.e8
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016

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