Receiving home health care reduces heart attack survivors' risk of hospital readmission after discharge, a new study finds.
In the United States, only a small percentage of heart attack survivors receive home care such as nursing and physical therapy, according to study authors.
The findings were presented recently at a virtual American Heart Association meeting. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"Little is known regarding the impact of home health care on heart attack patients," lead author Muhammad Adil Sheikh said. "Since patients who receive home health care tend to be older and sicker than others, and these characteristics themselves can lead to hospital readmission, we wanted to investigate the impact of home health care alone on readmission."
Sheikh is a clinical assistant professor and hospitalist at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.
He and his team used a national database of hospital readmissions to identify more than 400,000 U.S. heart attack survivors. They included 38,215 (9.4%) who received home health care.
The average age of those who had home health care was 77, compared with 60 for others.
Those who got home care were more likely to have previous health conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, chronic lung or kidney disease, high blood pressure and/or vascular disease.
After adjusting for those conditions, researchers concluded that home health care patients were 11% less likely to be readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge than those who did not have home care.
"Patients who received home health care are older, female or have underlying medical conditions," Sheikh said in an AHA news release. "These patients are likely to benefit the most from home health care, and this service should be utilized more often to potentially reduce hospital readmission rates."
The American Heart Association has more on heart attack recovery.