Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Use of hospital services by age and comorbidity after an index heart failure admission in England: an observational study
  1. Alex Bottle1,
  2. Rosalind Goudie1,
  3. Derek Bell2,
  4. Paul Aylin1,
  5. Martin R Cowie3
  1. 1Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College, London, UK
  2. 2Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Imperial College London, London, UK
  3. 3National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London (Royal Brompton Hospital), London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alex Bottle; robert.bottle{at}


Objectives To describe hospital inpatient, emergency department (ED) and outpatient department (OPD) activity for patients in the year following their first emergency admission for heart failure (HF). To assess the proportion receiving specialist assessment within 2 weeks of hospital discharge, as now recommended by guidelines.

Design Observational study of national administrative data.

Setting All acute NHS hospitals in England.

Participants 82 241 patients with an index emergency admission between April 2009 and March 2011 with a primary diagnosis of HF.

Main outcome measures Cardiology OPD appointment within 2 weeks and within a year of discharge from the index admission; emergency department (ED) and inpatient use within a year.

Results 15.1% died during the admission. Of the 69 848 survivors, 19.7% were readmitted within 30 days and half within a year, the majority for non-HF diagnoses. 6.7% returned to the ED within a week of discharge, of whom the majority (77.6%) were admitted. The two most common OPD specialties during the year were cardiology (24.7% of the total appointments) and anticoagulant services (12.5%). Although half of all patients had a cardiology appointment within a year, the proportion within the recommended 2 weeks of discharge was just 6.8% overall and varied by age, from 2.4% in those aged 90+ to 19.6% in those aged 18–45 (p<0.0001); appointments in other specialties made up only some of the shortfall. More comorbidity at any age was associated with higher rates of cardiology OPD follow-up.

Conclusions Patients with HF are high users of hospital services. Postdischarge cardiology OPD follow-up rates fell well below current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, particularly for the elderly and those with less comorbidity.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.