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Heart patients have shorter hospital stays

Patients recovering from heart attacks stay in the hospital for less time than in the 1950s, but the change has not increased the number of death rates after discharge, researchers said Monday.
/ Source: Reuters

Patients recovering from severe heart attacks in the United States are kept in hospitals less than a week, compared to stays of more than six weeks in the 1950s, researchers said Monday.

But the change has not been accompanied by higher death rates after discharge, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester said.

“Much of the observed decline in hospital length of stay may be attributed to improvements in the management of acute myocardial infarction, including increased use of coronary reperfusion modalities (techniques to restore blood and oxygen flow to the heart muscle),” said the report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Today’s hospital stay for an acute heart attack without ensuing complications averages five days, the study said.

The findings were based on a look at 4,551 patients discharged from a number of Massachusetts hospitals between 1986 and 1999. Early in the study patients were averaging 11.7 days, a figure which had declined to 5.9 in later years, the study said.

Patients who stayed longer were more likely to be older, female and have cardiac complications, the authors said.

In the 1950s, the article said, prolonged bed rest and rehabilitation were prescribed with stays of more than six weeks common.