TUESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- People who have heart attacks in the United States are far more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days than people in 16 other countries, a new study indicates.
Researchers suspect that the average length of stay, which was just three days in the United States compared with at least six days in other countries, is the main reason for the higher readmission rates. When they completed an analysis that adjusted the data for length of stay, they found that location was no longer a predictor of readmission.
"We found two striking predictors of 30-day readmission. Having multi-vessel disease and being in the U.S. This difference is probably multifactorial, but the length of stay is the shortest in the U.S. It was three days here and six, seven or more in other countries," said study senior author Dr. Manesh Patel, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
"When we adjusted for the length of stay, the difference went away. We're really good at opening up their arteries, but we provide more episodic care. Our systems of care may not be as integrated as they are in other countries. We need to make the link from the hospital to the primary care doctor to ensure that patients are getting set up in cardiac rehab and that they're following up with a cardiologist," Patel said.
And, while the study found that U.S. patients had higher readmission rates after a heart attack, Patel noted that mortality rates weren't higher in the United States.
Results of the study are published in the Jan. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study looked at people who were hospitalized for a specific type of heart attack called an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). This type of heart attack accounts for up to 38 percent of all hear
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