Heart failure remains a common, costly concern


Heart failure remains one of the deadliest chronic medical conditions, with 5-year mortality rates approaching 50%, and is the most common diagnosis for adults aged 65 years and older who are admitted to the hospital, according to Albert J. Hicks III, MD.

Dr. Albert J. Hicks III

Dr. Hicks, a cardiologist at Baylor Scott & White Health in Temple, Tex., will discuss the latest challenges and hottest topics surrounding heart failure in the “Updates in Heart Failure” session on Monday, at HM19.

The growth of an aging population in the United States further emphasizes the importance of heart failure as a topic of interest to clinicians, Dr. Hicks said in an interview. He noted that heart failure is the highest medical expenditure for Medicare, and estimates suggest the condition will cost the U.S. health care system $30 billion by the year 2030, he said. With these numbers in mind, the timing of referring patients to an advanced heart failure team is a key issue.

But the timing of referral for advanced care is just one of the hot topics on the agenda for the “Updates in Heart Failure” session, Dr. Hicks said. Other topics include heart failure epidemiology (incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, and disparities); economics of heart failure (burden of care on the U.S. health care system); heart failure hospitalizations and readmissions (risk factors, comorbidities, patient compliance issues); pathophysiology (why heart failure is so deadly); signs and symptoms of heart failure (how to recognize them); treatment of stage C heart failure, with a review of old and new drugs and devices; and treatment of stage D heart failure, including palliative care, mechanical circulatory support, and heart transplantation.

Dr. Hicks’ primary goal for the session is to “increase awareness of the high mortality associated with a heart failure diagnosis,” he said. He also hopes to educate hospitalists about the latest medications, devices, and resources for heart failure patients and to give them the tools and knowledge to help reduce morbidity and mortality in their heart failure patients.

Session attendees also will benefit from Dr. Hicks’ practical advice on identifying warning signs that indicate a heart failure patient may need a medical assist device or a heart transplant and on encouraging early referral of heart failure patients to advanced heart failure specialists before irreversible end-organ damage occurs.

Dr. Hicks hypothesized that the high mortality associated with a heart failure diagnosis, hospital readmission, and late referral will generate the liveliest discussion because issues of costs and resources continue to evolve.

His take-home message: “Early recognition and referral of heart failure patients to a heart failure cardiologist can improve patient costs, morbidity, and survival.

Dr. Hicks had no relevant financial conflicts to disclose.

Updates in Heart Failure
Monday, 2:00-2:40 p.m.
Woodrow Wilson

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