J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Aug 4:e015042. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.015042. Online ahead of print.
Background Patients hospitalized with heart failure (HF) with reduced ejection fraction have high risk of rehospitalization or death. Despite guideline recommendations based on high-quality evidence, a substantial proportion of patients with HF with reduced ejection fraction receive suboptimal care and/or do not comply with optimal care following hospitalization. Methods and Results This retrospective observational study identified 17 106 patients with HF with reduced ejection fraction with an incident HF-related hospitalization using the Humana Medicare Advantage database (2008-2016). HF medication classes (beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors, or mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists) received in the year after hospitalization were recorded, and categorized by treatment intensity (ie, number of concomitant medication classes received: none [23% of patients; n=3987], monotherapy [22%; n=3777], dual therapy [41%; n=7056], or triple therapy [13%; n=2286]). Compared with no medication, risk of primary outcome (composite of death or rehospitalization) was significantly reduced (hazard ratio [95% CI]) with monotherapy (0.68 [0.64-0.71]), dual therapy (0.56 [0.53-0.59]), and triple therapy (0.45 [0.41-0.50]). Nearly half (46%) of patients who received post-discharge medication had no dose escalation. Overall, 59% of patients had follow-up with a primary care physician within 14 days of discharge, and 23% had follow-up with a cardiologist. Conclusions In real-world clinical practice, increasing treatment intensity reduced risk of death and rehospitalization among patients hospitalized for HF, though the use of guideline-recommended dual and triple HF therapy remained low. There are opportunities to improve post-discharge medical management for patients with HF with reduced ejection fraction such as optimizing dose titration and improving post-discharge follow-up with providers.