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Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2011 Jan 1;4(1):85-91. doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.110.958587. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Assessment of left ventricular function in older Medicare beneficiaries with newly diagnosed heart failure.

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Duke Clinical Research Institute and Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC 27715, USA.



Assessment of left ventricular function is a recommended performance measure for the care of patients with newly diagnosed heart failure. Little is known about the extent to which left ventricular function is assessed in real-world settings.


We analyzed a 5% national sample of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 1991 through 2008. Patients were 65 years or older, with incident heart failure in 1995, 1999, 2003, or 2007. We searched for evidence of tests of left ventricular function from 30 days before through 60 days after an incident heart failure diagnosis. We used logistic regression to identify patient characteristics associated with assessment of left ventricular function. There were 45 005 patients with incident heart failure in 1995, 38 425 in 1999, 39 529 in 2003, and 32 629 in 2007. Assessment of left ventricular function increased from 46% to 60%, with rest echocardiography being the predominant mode. Patients diagnosed with heart failure during a hospitalization had the highest assessment rates (58% in 1995, 64% in 1999, 69% in 2003, and 73% in 2007). After adjustment for other patient characteristics, odds of assessment were 4 times higher among patients diagnosed in inpatient settings.


Nearly 40% of Medicare beneficiaries do not undergo assessment of left ventricular function when newly diagnosed with heart failure. Quality-improvement strategies are needed to optimize the care of these patients, especially in outpatient settings.

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