INTRODUCTION - Although differences in heart failure (HF) hospitalization rates by race and sex are well documented, little is known about geographic variations in hospitalizations for HF, the most common discharge diagnosis for Medicare beneficiaries.
METHODS - Using exploratory spatial data analysis techniques, the authors examined hospitalization rates for HF as the first-listed discharge diagnosis among Medicare beneficiaries in a 10-state Tennessee catchment area, based on the resident states reported by Tennessee hospitals from 2000 to 2004.
RESULTS - The age-adjusted HF hospitalization rate (per 1000) among Medicare beneficiaries was 23.3 [95% confidence interval (CI), 23.3-23.4] for the Tennessee catchment area, 21.4 (95% CI, 21.4-21.5) outside the catchment area and 21.9 (95% CI, 21.9-22.0) for the overall United States. The age-adjusted HF hospitalization rates were also significantly higher in the catchment area than outside the catchment area and overall, among men, women and whites, whereas rates among the blacks were higher outside the catchment area. Beneficiaries in the catchment area also had higher age-specific HF hospitalization rates. Among states in the catchment area, the highest mean county-level rates were in Mississippi (30.6 ± 7.6) and Kentucky (29.2 ± 11.5), and the lowest were in North Carolina (21.7 ± 5.7) and Virginia (21.8 ± 6.6).
CONCLUSIONS - Knowledge of these geographic differences in HF hospitalization rates can be useful in identifying needs of healthcare providers, allocating resources, developing comprehensive HF outreach programs and formulating policies to reduce these differences.