Evaluation of Quality of Care for US Veterans with Recent-Onset Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction

Alexander T. Sandhu, Shun Kohsaka, Mintu P. Turakhia, Eldrin F. Lewis, Paul A. Heidenreich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Multiple guideline-recommended therapies for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) are available and promoted by performance measures. However, contemporary data on the use of these therapies are limited. Objective: To evaluate trends in guideline-directed medical therapy, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) use, and risk-adjusted mortality among patients with recent-onset HFrEF. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study analyzed claims and electronic health record data of patients with recent-onset HFrEF diagnosed at US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system facilities from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2019. Veterans who had a history of heart transplant or used a ventricular assist device were among the patients who were excluded. Exposures: Guideline-directed medical therapy (any β-blocker, guideline-recommended β-blocker [bisoprolol, carvedilol, or metoprolol succinate], angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, angiotensin receptor blocker, angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor, mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, and hydralazine plus nitrate) and ICD. Main Outcomes and Measures: Treatment rates for guideline-directed medical therapies and ICDs were calculated within 6 months of the index HFrEF date using medication fills, procedural codes for implantation and monitoring, and diagnosis codes. Risk-adjusted mortality was calculated after adjusting for baseline patient characteristics. For both treatment rates and risk-adjusted mortality, we evaluated the change over 3 periods (period 1: July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015; period 2: July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2017; and period 3: July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019) and variation across VA facilities. Results: The final cohort comprised 144074 eligible patients with incident HFrEF that was diagnosed between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2019. The cohort had a mean (SD) age of 71.0 (11.4) years and was mostly composed of men (140 765 [97.7%]). Overall, changes in medical therapy rates were minimal over time, with the use of a guideline-recommended β-blocker increasing from 64.2% in 2013 to 72.0% in 2019. Rates for mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist therapy increased from 23.9% in 2013 to 26.9% in 2019, and rates for hydralazine plus nitrate therapy remained stable at 24.2% over the study period. Rates for angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor therapy increased since its introduction in 2015 but only to 22.6% in 2019. Among patients with an ICD indication, early use rates decreased over time. Substantial variation in medical therapy rates persisted across VA facilities. Risk-adjusted mortality decreased over the study period from 19.9% (95% CI, 19.6%-20.2%) in July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015, to 18.4% (95% CI, 18.0%-18.7%) in July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019 (OR, 0.96 per additional year; 95% CI, 0.96-0.97). Conclusions and Relevance: This study found only marginal improvement between 2013 and 2019 in the guideline-recommended therapy and mortality rates among patients with recent-onset HFrEF. New approaches to increase the uptake of evidence-based HFrEF treatment are urgently needed and could lead to larger reductions in mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-139
Number of pages10
JournalJAMA Cardiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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