Cardiac nurse home visits could save hundreds of lives a year

Tuesday, 10 May 2016


New research from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research (MMIHR) reveals cardiac nurse home visits could save hundreds of lives a year.

Heart disease kills more than 43,000 Australians a year, but new research from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research at Australian Catholic University says hundreds of lives could be saved if State and Territory governments used specialist cardiac nurses to visit patients at home as part of a comprehensive follow-up program known as home-based interventions (HBI).

The National Health and Medical Research Council funded research, Impact of Nurse-Led, Multidisciplinary Home-Based Intervention on Event-Free Survival Across the Spectrum of Chronic Heart Disease, was published in the academic journal Circulation today (May 10).

The study involved 1,226 patients from five Australian states. It found post-discharge patients who received specialist and qualified cardiac nurse-led home-based interventions lived longer than those who received standard care. Using a measurement called Days Alive Out of Hospital (DAOH), the study reported 94 of 612 (15%) patients using home-based interventions died in comparison with 124 of 614 (20%) patients allocated standard care.

Lead researcher and MacKillop Institute Director Professor Simon Stewart said the differences between the groups were "clinically compelling". "Home-based intervention was associated with significantly prolonged survival," he said.

Professor Stewart said the research was particularly relevant given Australia's ageing population. "With an increasingly ageing cardiac patient population in whom multi-morbidity and re-hospitalisations are becoming more common, our positive findings with respect to HBI, as a reflection of the overall benefits of applying successful programs involving a home-based or transitional care approach to chronic heart disease management, are likely to become more clinically relevant over time," he said.

"Certainly, there is an increasing pressure to develop cost-effective strategies to mitigate persistently high levels of re-hospitalisation and premature mortality associated with chronic heart disease," Professor Stewart said. "This study provides further support for the application of post-discharge HBI across the full spectrum of patients being hospitalised for chronic forms of heart disease. The benefits of home-based models of care, with their ability to improve the contextual profiling of affected patients to strengthen factors shown to improve health outcomes are now well described with this study - a first of its kind, in fact, as there has been a paucity of research looking at this issue.”