Background — While it is well known that heart failure patients presenting to the emergency room (ER) have high short‐term mortality after discharge, the outcomes of patients with heart failure with repeated ER visits within a short time are not known. In this study, we aimed to determine whether clustering is associated with an increased risk of death.
Methods and Results —This is a retrospective, population‐based cohort study with an accrual window between 2003 and 2014 and maximal follow‐up up to and including March 31, 2015. Data were obtained from administrative databases from Ontario, Canada. Clustering was defined a priori as 3 or more ER visits within a 6‐month period. The main outcome of interest was time to death conditional on 6‐month survival. A total of 72 810 patients with an index hospitalization for acute heart failure were evaluated. ER clustering was observed in 15.1% of the population. Increased burden of comorbidities, primary rural residence, and lack of primary care provider were identified as factors associated with ER clustering. Age‐ and sex‐adjusted mortality for clustered patients was higher than for nonclustered (hazard ratio [HR] 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.47–1.55, P<0.0001). Adjusted mortality risk was also higher for patients with clustered ER visits (HR 1.42; 95% confidence interval 1.38–1.46; P<0.0001).
Conclusions — Clustering, as defined by 3 or more ER visits for any reason within 6 months of index heart failure hospitalization reflects a novel risk factor associated with increased mortality. Future research into the strategies to better manage complex patients with heart failure with recurrent ER visits are warranted.
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