Health Team

Study: Heart failure patients not receiving medication

Posted October 20, 2009 5:44 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2009 8:17 p.m. EDT

Every year more than a million patients are hospitalized with heart failure, according the Journal of American Medical Association.

A recent study shows not all of them are getting medication proven to help the heart pump blood more efficiently.

Heart failure can lead to life-threatening problems like “fatigue, exercise intolerance or backup of blood in the various tissues leading to congestion,” said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, of the UCLA School of Medicine.

Aldosterone antagonists “have been tested in clinical trials and are shown to offer broad protection to patients,” Fonarow said.

But a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that hospitals varied widely in prescribing aldosterone antagonists, even though they're inexpensive.

In 241 hospitals studied over a two-year period, only one-third of eligible patients left the hospital with the medication.

“In a contemporary time frame in hospitals across the U.S., there are large numbers of eligible patients that are not being treated,” Fonarow said.

Doctors suggest heart failure patients ask if they're eligible for the therapy.

Researchers hope their findings will lead to programs that will further improve upon the treatment rate.