Objectives. We evaluated the use and the impact of echocardiography in patients receiving an initial diagnosis of congestive heart failure in Olmsted County, Minnesota, in 1991. Background. The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association clinical practice guidelines recommend echocardiography in all patients with suspected congestive heart failure. No data are available on use and impact of echocardiography in management of congestive heart failure in a community. Methods. The medical records linkage system of the Rochester Epidemiology Project was used to identify all 216 patients who satisfied the Framingham criteria for congestive heart failure. Of these, 137 (63%) underwent echocardiography within 3 weeks before or after the episode of congestive heart failure (Echo group), and the other 79 patients constitute the No-Echo group. Results. The No-Echo group patients were older (p = 0.022), were more likely to be female (p = 0.072), had milder symptoms (p = 0.001) and were less often hospitalized at diagnosis (p = 0.001). Fewer patients in the No-Echo group were treated with angiotensin- converting enzyme inhibitors (p = 0.001). Advanced age (≥80 years), lower New York Heart Association functional class, absence of a fourth heart sound on examination, absence of cardiomegaly or signs of congestive heart failure on chest radiography and absence of known valve disease were independently related to the decision not to obtain an echocardiogram. Survival after adjustment for age, functional class and gender was lower in the No-Echo group than the Echo group (risk ratio = 0.607, p = 0.017). Conclusions. The underuse of echocardiography appears to be associated with poorer survival and underuse of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine