The purpose of this study was to assess healthcare utilization and costs for heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction (HF-REF) in Sweden.
METHODS AND RESULTS:
This was a retrospective, population-based cohort study of patients diagnosed with HF-REF during a period of 18 months at 31 primary care centers in Uppsala County, Sweden. Data was obtained from computerized records from these centers, the Swedish Patient Registry, the Swedish Prescription Registry, the Cause of Death Registry, and a local echocardiography registry maintained by the Department of Physiology, Uppsala University Hospital. Main outcome measures were cardiovascular and heart-failure-related hospitalizations, outpatient visits, medication utilization, mortality (all-cause, cardiovascular, and heart-failure), and healthcare costs for HF-REF patients. During the index period, 252 heart failure patients had a left ventricular ejection fraction measurement ≤ 40% and were categorized as having HF-REF. More than half of the patients had ≥ 1 cardiovascular or heart failure-related hospitalization. On average, patients had >2 such hospitalizations annually. They also averaged ∼1 cardiovascular or heart-failure-related outpatient visit per year. All-cause mortality was high: 15.9% patients died within 1 year after the index date. The mean annual cost per patient for heart-failure-related hospitalizations was SEK 72,613 (EUR 7610). In contrast, annual prescription costs were low, on average 3% of total cost (SEK 3503, EUR 367 per patient)
The main limitations of this study include a short follow-up time and small sample size. Also, certain data were missing, such as echocardiograms (available for only 28% of patients), and information on patients' New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class, validity period for prescriptions or the units of medication prescribed, and medication dosing. Furthermore, the overall mortality could have been under-estimated, as only the primary cause of death was included in the analysis.
The main burden associated with HF-REF is related to hospitalizations for heart-failure events. Effective treatment options that decrease hospitalization rates could reduce patients' suffering and potentially offer considerable cost savings.
2012. Vol. 15, no 5, 938-946 p.