Medical breakthroughs in recent decades have allowed heart attack survivors and other heart-disease patients to live longer. But as their hearts decline into congestive heart failure, an increasing number will experience disability and the need for nursing-home care.
A new study from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System sheds light on the degree of disability among people with CHF, as well as the implications for the health care system, community care facilities, families and the patients themselves.
In particular, the study found that CHF patients were much more likely to be disabled than people without the condition. They were found to be much more likely to have difficulties with activities of daily living, such as grocery shopping and walking across the room. And they were more likely to require care from nursing homes and family members.
"The prevalence of congestive heart failure imposes a substantial burden on patients, families and the long-term care system," says lead author Tanya Gure, M.D., a lecturer in the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the U-M Health System. "The degree of disability in this group is quite high, and their caregiving needs are extensive. We need to make sure, in the medical community and society in general, that we are adequately meeting their health and social needs."
The study is based on data from the 2000 data of the Health and Retirement Study, a national survey conducted by U-M's Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Aging. Data in the new study are based on responses from 10,626 survey respondents ages 65 and older.
Among the findings:
(Note: All of the items below cite the CHF number first, followed by the percentage of people with coronary heart disease but no CHF, then people without coronary heart disease)
Funding came from the National Institute on Aging, a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research award (Langa), the VA Center for Practice Management & Outcomes Research and the RWJ Clinical Scholars Program (Gure), and the Ann Arbor VA Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (Blaum).
Journal reference: Journal of General Internal Medicine, Jan. 2008, Volume 23, Issue 1, "Degree of Disability and Patterns of Caregiving among Older Americans with Congestive Heart Failure."
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