Cainzos-Achirica M, Capdevila C, Vela E, Cleries M, Bilal U, Garcia-Altes A, Enjuanes C, Garay A, Yun S, Farre N, Corbella X, Comin-Colet J. Individual income, mortality and healthcare resource use in patients with chronic heart failure living in a universal healthcare system: a population-based study in Catalonia, Spain. Int J Cardiol. 2019 Feb 15;277:250-7.

BACKGROUND: To evaluate the associations between individual income, all-cause mortality and use of healthcare resources in a very large population of chronic heart failure (CHF) patients living in Catalonia (Spain), where access to public healthcare is granted by law.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We used 2016 data from the Catalan Health Surveillance System, a large, exhaustive, administrative healthcare database which includes information on medical diagnoses, healthcare resource use, and individual income for all Catalan residents (N = 7,638,524). Individual annual income was categorized as high (>100,000€), medium (18,000-100,000€), low (<18,000€), and very low (welfare support). Among 155,883 CHF patients, lower individual income was associated with a shorter life expectancy at age 50 (life expectancy for high income patients 22.2 years, for very low income patients 12.8), and were independently associated with higher all-cause mortality adjusting for age, sex, comorbidities, and duration of the CHF diagnosis (odds ratio very low vs. medium income 1.21 [95% CI 1.11, 1.33]). Also, in patients with lower income levels the burden of public healthcare resource use was displaced towards urgent hospitalizations and frequent emergency department visits, as opposed to regular, specialized CHF ambulatory-based care.

CONCLUSION: In a very large population of CHF patients with access to universal healthcare, lower income was independently associated with higher mortality and with lower use of ambulatory-based healthcare resources. Our findings suggest that CHF patients may benefit from systematic assessment of their socioeconomic status, as this may aid the identification of vulnerable subgroups who may benefit from tailored health education and management.

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