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Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1999 Sep;22(9):1386-94.

The costs of recurrent syncope of unknown origin in elderly patients.

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  • 1Division of Health Services Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455-0392, USA.


Although syncope has been shown to reduce quality-of-life, its impact on resource costs has not been documented. The objective of this study was to quantify the annual medical costs of caring for elderly patients with syncope, especially recurrent syncope of unknown origin. Administrative data from the Health Care Financing Administration were obtained on 7,959 Medicare patients who had at least one inpatient admission with a diagnosis of syncope in 1993. The costs of any inpatient admissions, outpatient procedures, or physician visits with an ICD-CM-9 diagnosis for syncope were summed for a 365-day period from the date of the initial hospitalization for syncope. Patients who had at least two hospitalizations with admission and discharge diagnosis of syncope were deemed to have recurrent syncope of uncertain origin. To better estimate syncope costs for those whose syncope costs could have been attributed to other diagnoses, a regression analysis was performed including variables representing the most frequent secondary diagnoses. The average annual costs of those who were admitted with syncope but who were discharged with another diagnosis was $4,942 in 1993. The average annual cost of patients with recurrent syncope deemed to be of unknown origin was $5,165. For those patients with secondary diagnoses of atherosclerosis, urinary tract infections, or hypokalemia, the annual costs of syncope averaged $6,820, $7,013, or $7,949, respectively.

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