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As you age, your risk for heart problems grow. And researchers at Yale have found one particular time when your heart health may be at a very high risk.
The Yale two-year study of 3 million Medicare patients who were hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure and pneumonia, found that in the month after being discharged from the hospital, the people in the study had a 20 percent chance of dying or being rehospitalized.
The study demonstrated that the chances of having to go back to the hospital or dying only receded very gradually after the first hospital visit and it stayed high for a prolonged time.
The worst risk was for people who had been hospitalized for heart failure.
So, if you’ve had these types of heart problems, you have to keep careful track of your health even after you go home from the hospital.
“Patients should remain vigilant for deterioration in health for an extended time after hospitalization,” says researcher Kumar Dharmarajan who teaches at the Yale School of Medicine. “This might mean checking in more often with a primary care physician or specialist.”
This also means that hospitals and doctors have to be alert for further heart problems among their patients.
“If we can track absolute risks and their changes over time, this information will be critical in helping patients and hospitals set realistic expectations and goals for recovery, and plan for appropriate care after discharge,” says Dharmarajan. “As our health system increasingly focuses on improving long-term health and personalizing care, this information can help hospitals focus their interventions during the highest risk periods for patients.