WASHINGTON — Congestive heart failure, hardening of the arteries, heartbeat irregularities and heart attack are four of the five most common reasons elderly Americans go into the hospital, according to a U.S. government report issued on Wednesday.
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The four conditions accounted for nearly 2.4 million hospital stays. Pneumonia was the second-leading reason for hospital admissions among the elderly, with 713,000 admissions, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Americans over the age of 65 were also frequently hospitalized for arthritis, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rehabilitation care and fluid and electrolyte disorders, such as abnormally high sodium levels in the blood, the report found.
It also found that the average hospital stay for elderly patients cost hospitals $9,800 in 2004. This is 25 percent higher than the $7,800 average cost in 1997.
The agency looked at data from hospitals responsible for 90 percent of all discharges in the United States covering all patients, including those without insurance.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, followed by cancer and then stroke.
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