VANCOUVER, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Heart failure patients who see a doctor in the first month after leaving hospital are more than 10 percent less likely to die or suffer a new emergency than those who do not, a Canadian study has found.
The study, published earlier this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, shows the benefit is even greater in patients who see their regular physicians rather than someone unfamiliar within the critical first 30 days.
Researchers analyzed data for more than 24,000 adult sufferers of heart failure in the province of Alberta who were discharged from hospital between January 1999 and June 2009 for the study.
Almost 22 percent of the discharged patients did not follow up with physicians within the first month, 69 percent saw a familiar physician and 9 percent saw an unfamiliar physician, the study found.
Finlay McAlister, a researcher from the University of Alberta and the study's lead author, said the transition from hospital back to the community was fairly high-risk for heart-failure patients.
"Heart failure is the number one cause of hospitalization for adults over 65 and has a high risk of readmission and early death. We need to do more to ensure follow-up visits with community physicians shortly after discharge," he said.
Heart failure is caused by the heart failing to pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure. It usually occurs when the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff to work properly.