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Temporal trends and sex differences in intensity of healthcare at the end of life in adults with heart failure

Van Spall HGC, Hill AD, Fu L, Ross HJ, Fowler RA. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021; 10(1):e018495. Epub 2020 Dec 16. DOI:

Background — Patients with chronic disease prefer an adequately supported death at home, but often die in the hospital. We assessed temporal trends and sex differences in healthcare intensity and location of death among decedents with heart failure.

Methods and Results — This was a retrospective cohort study of adults with heart failure who died between April 1, 2004 and March 31, 2017 in Ontario, Canada. We used population‐based administrative databases to assess healthcare utilization during the last 6 months of life and applied multilevel multivariable logistic regression to assess whether sex was independently associated with location of death. Among 396 024 decedents with heart failure, mean (SD) age was 81.8 (10.7) years, 51.5% were women, and 53.4% had in‐hospital deaths. From 2004 to 2016, there was an increase in patients receiving mechanical ventilation (15.1%–19.6%), hemodialysis (5.2%–6.8%), and cardiac revascularization (1.7%–2.3%). Relative to men, women spent fewer days in a hospital (mean, 16.4 versus 18.3; mean difference, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.7–2.0; P<0.001) and in an intensive care unit (mean, 2.1 versus 3.0; mean difference, 0.9; 95% CI, 0.8–0.9; P<0.001); and less commonly received mechanical ventilation (15.5% versus 20.8%; P<0.001); hemodialysis (4.8% versus 7.7%; P<0.001); or cardiac catheterization (2.8% versus 4.6%; P<0.001). Female sex was independently associated with lower odds of in‐hospital death (odds ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.87–0.89). Mean (SD) 6‐month direct healthcare cost was greater for in‐hospital ($52 349 [$55 649]) than out‐of‐hospital ($35 998 [$31 900]) death.

Conclusions — Among decedents with heart failure, invasive care in the last 6 months increased in prevalence over time but was less common in women, who had lower odds of dying in a hospital.

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