J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Jul 2:e021117. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.021117. Online ahead of print.
Background In the United States, hospitalizations for pulmonary embolism (PE) are increasing among older adults insured by Medicare. Although efforts to reduce health disparities have intensified, it remains unclear whether clinical outcomes differ between socioeconomically disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with PE. Methods and Results In this study, there were 53 386 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries age ≥65 years hospitalized for PE between October 2015 and January 2017. Of these, 5494 (10.3%) were socioeconomically disadvantaged and 47 892 (89.7%) were nondisadvantaged. Socioeconomically disadvantaged adults were of similar age as nondisadvantaged adults (77.1 versus 77.0), more likely to be female (68.5% versus 54.2%), and less likely to receive advanced therapies (11.0% versus 12.1%). After adjustment for demographics, 90-day all-cause mortality rates were similar between disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged adults. In contrast, 1-year mortality rates were higher among socioeconomically disadvantaged adults (hazard ratio [HR], 1.16; 95% CI, 1.10-1.22), although these differences were partially attenuated after additional adjustments for comorbidities and PE severity (HR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02-1.16). Risk-adjusted 30-day and 90-day all-cause readmission rates were substantially higher among socioeconomically disadvantaged patients (30-day HR, 1.14 [95% CI, 1.06-1.22]; 90-day HR, 1.18 [95% CI, 1.12-1.25]). In addition, 90-day readmissions attributed to PE, deep vein thrombosis, and/or bleeding were higher among socioeconomically disadvantaged patients (HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.02-1.32). Conclusions Socioeconomically disadvantaged older adults hospitalized with PE have higher 1-year mortality rates compared with their nondisadvantaged counterparts. Nearly 1 in 3 socioeconomically disadvantaged older adults was readmitted within 90 days of a hospitalization for PE. Targeted strategies are needed to improve transitional and ambulatory care for this vulnerable population.