Introduction Digitalis has been used for over 200 years to treat patients with heart failure (HF). Evidence from clinical trials supports the use of digitalis in patients with HF due to left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction, particularly in patients with more advanced symptoms. However, there is no evidence that digitalis improves survival.
Hypothesis We evaluated the role of digitalis use in the 30-day readmission rate, mortality rate and length of stay (LOS) in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF).
Methods We performed a retrospective chart analysis of 1,616 patients who were admitted to the hospital from 2005 to 2012 due to decompensated HF. 781 patients had HFrEF. The medications of all 781 patients with HFrEF were reviewed. The HFrEF patients were divided into two groups: digitalis-treated and non-digitalis treated. The 30-day readmission rate, mortality rate and LOS were subsequently determined.
Results Of the 781 patients with HFrEF, 196 (25%) did receive digitalis treatment versus 584 (75%) did not receive Digitalis treatment. After the other medications in each group were standardized, the digitalis-treatment HFrEF group had a higher 30-day readmission rate compared to the non-digitalis treatment HFrEF group (OR: 1.5, 95% CI: 1.1–2.2, p=0.04). The morality rate and LOS between the digitalis-treatment and non-digitalis treatment groups did not differ (p=0.7 and 0.4, respectively).
Conclusion Our study confirmed that digitalis use in HFrEF does not improve the survival rate and length of stay. However, our study showed that digitalis use can increase the 30-day readmission rate.
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