TORONTO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Cardiogenic shock, acute kidney injury, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the top drivers of 30-day rehospitalizations in U.S. patients after an index hospitalization for pulmonary arterial hypertension, based on an analysis of U.S. national data from 2013.

An episode of cardiogenic shock boosted 30-day rehospitalizations nearly 10-fold in recently discharged pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH) patients. A history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) linked with a threefold higher rehospitalization rate, and acute kidney injury linked with a doubled number of 30-day rehospitalizations, Kshitij Chatterjee, MD , said at the CHEST annual meeting.

“We were surprised” that acute disorders – cardiogenic shock and acute kidney injury – played such a key role in triggering readmissions, said Dr. Chatterjee, a hospitalist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science in Little Rock. He contrasted the impact of these acute disorders on PAH with the main drivers of rehospitalization for other diseases, such as COPD and pneumonia, that more often link with chronic comorbidities.

The powerful impact of cardiogenic shock in particular suggests that interventions that improve patient compliance with stabilizing treatments following an index PAH hospitalization might be effective at preventing a patient’s quick return to the hospital. Contacting PAH patients a week after their index hospitalization discharge to make sure they are compliant with their diuretic regimen, for example, might help prevent a decompensation that then leads to cardiogenic shock and a return trip to the hospital, Dr. Chatterjee suggested.

Follow-up of PAH patients after an index hospitalization “is probably the single most important thing, because it can help with compliance,” he said in an interview.

The rehospitalizations he studied could be for any cause. His analysis showed that the most common cause of rehospitalization was heart failure, which caused 23% of the rehospitalizations, followed by pulmonary hypertension that caused 20%, and acute kidney injury, responsible for 11% of the 30-day rehospitalizations.

Dr. Chatterjee’s study used data collected during 2013 in the National Readmissions Database , run by the federal Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. During that period, 776 patients entered a U.S. hospital with a primary diagnosis of PAH. During the 30 days following discharge, 114 (15%) returned to the hospital. During the second hospitalization 8% died, and the median length of stay for those who remained alive was 7 days.

Dr. Chatterjee highlighted that the modest number of index hospitalizations for PAH, as well as 30-day rehospitalizations he found in 2013, make it highly unlikely that PAH rehospitalizations will become a target for Medicare penalties as has been done for heart failure, pneumonia, COPD, and a few other disorders. But he stressed that patients with PAH who need rehospitalization generally have a highly compromised quality of life that potentially could be avoided by better management, which could prevent the need for rehospitalization.

Dr. Chatterjee had no disclosures.

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