Public Release: 

Sleep apnea treatment associated with reduced readmissions for patients with heart failure

Thomas Jefferson University

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea may reduce six-month readmissions for patients hospitalized with heart failure, according to research recently published online by the American Journal of Cardiology.

"Our research showed that early recognition and treatment of patients hospitalized with decompensated congestive heart failure is associated with a reduction in readmissions, for patients who use their positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy on a regular basis," said first author Sunil Sharma, M.D., FAASM, Associate Professor of Pulmonary Medicine in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. "Importantly, hospitals can implement cost-effective screening programs to catch sleep apnea in hospitalized, high risk patients."

Dr. Sharma and the team screened patients admitted to the hospital with heart failure, for underlying sleep disordered breathing. Of the 75 patients that followed up with an outpatient polysomnography, the gold standard test, 70 received the diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing. Over the next six months, the team tracked patients' PAP compliance, emergency room visits and readmissions. Compliance was monitored objectively by the device computer and defined as a minimum of four hours of use, 70 percent of the time, for four weeks consecutively or more during the first three months of therapy.

By comparing pre- and post-treatment readmissions in compliant (n=37) and non-compliant patients (n=33), the researchers found a reduction in hospital visits for those who used their PAP regularly over a period of six months.

"Physicians should be on the lookout for sleep apnea in patients with heart failure with the goal of diagnosing and treating early, which might help prevent readmissions and emergency room visits," Sharma said. "Multi-center, randomized studies are needed to replicate and validate these findings."

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Article Reference: Sharma, S., et al. Effect of Early Intervention with Positive Airway Pressure Therapy for Sleep Disordered Breathing on Six-Month Readmission Rates in Hospitalized Patients with Heart Failure. American Journal of Cardiology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2015.12.032

About Jefferson

Our newly formed organization, Jefferson, encompasses Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, representing our academic and clinical entities. Together, the people of Jefferson, 19,000 strong, provide the highest-quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educate the health professionals of tomorrow, and discover new treatments and therapies that will define the future of health care.

Jefferson Health comprises five hospitals, 16 outpatient and urgent care locations, as well as physician practices and everywhere we deliver care throughout the city and suburbs across Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks Counties in Pa., and Camden County in New Jersey. Together, these facilities serve nearly 73,000 inpatients, 239,000 emergency patients and 1.7 million outpatient visits annually. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia. Abington Hospital is the largest community teaching hospital in Montgomery or Bucks counties. Other hospitals include Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience in Center City Philadelphia; Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia; and Abington-Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township.

Thomas Jefferson University enrolls more than 3,800 future physicians, scientists, nurses and healthcare professionals in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC), Jefferson Colleges of Biomedical Sciences, Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy, Population Health and is home of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

For more information and a complete listing of Jefferson services and locations, visit http://www.jefferson.edu.

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