Background: Reducing the high patient and economic burden of early readmissions after hospitalisation for heart failure (HF) has become a health policy priority of recent years.
Methods: An observational study linking Hospital Episode Statistics to socioeconomic and death data in England (2002-2018). All first hospitalisations with a primary discharge code for HF were identified. Quasi-poisson models were used to investigate trends in 30-day readmissions by age, sex, socioeconomic status and ethnicity.
Findings: There were 698,983 HF admissions, median age 81 years [IQR 14].In-hospital deaths reduced by 0.7% per annum (pa), whilst additional deaths at 30-days remained stable at 5%. Age adjusted 30-day readmissions (21% overall), increased by 1.4% pa (95% CI 1.3-1.5). Readmissions for HF (6%) and 'other cardiovascular disease (CVD)' (3%) remained stable, but readmissions for non-CVD causes (12%) increased at a rate of 2.6% (2.4-2.7) pa. Proportions were similar by sex but trends diverged by ethnicity. Black groups experienced an increase in readmissions for HF (1.8% pa, interaction-p 0.03) and South Asian groups had more rapidly increasing readmission rates for non-CVD causes (interaction-p 0.04). Non-CVD readmissions were also more prominent in the least (15%; 15-15) compared to the most affluent group (12%; 12-12). Strongest predictors for HF readmission were Black ethnicity and chronic kidney disease, whilst cardiac procedures were protective. For non-CVD readmissions, strongest predictors were non-CVD comorbidities, whilst cardiologist care was protective.
Interpretation: In HF, despite readmission reduction policies, 30-day readmissions have increased, impacting the least affluent and ethnic minority groups the most.
- heart failure