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Geographic Variation in the Quality of Heart Failure Care Among U.S. Veterans.

Kosaraju RS, Fonarow GC, Ong MK, Heidenreich PA, Washington DL, Wang X, Ziaeian B. Geographic Variation in the Quality of Heart Failure Care Among U.S. Veterans. JACC. Heart failure. 2023 Jul 17.

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BACKGROUND: The burden of heart failure is growing. Guideline-directed medical therapies (GDMT) reduce adverse outcomes in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Whether there is geographic variation in HFrEF quality of care is not well described. OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated variation nationally for prescription of GDMT within the Veterans Health Administration. METHODS: A cohort of Veterans with HFrEF had their address linked to hospital referral regions (HRRs). GDMT prescription was defined using pharmacy data between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. Within HRRs, we calculated the percentage of Veterans prescribed GDMT and a composite GDMT z-score. National choropleth maps were created to evaluate prescription variation. Associations between GDMT performance and demographic characteristics were evaluated using linear regression. RESULTS: Maps demonstrated significant variation in the HRR composite score and GDMT prescriptions. Within HRRs, the prescription of beta-blockers to Veterans was highest with a median of 80% (IQR: 77.3%-82.2%) followed by angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor/angiotensin receptor blocker/angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors (69.3%; IQR: 66.4%-72.1%), sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors (10.3%; IQR: 7.7%-12.8%), mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (29.2%; IQR: 25.8%-33.9%), and angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors (12.2%; IQR: 8.6%-15.3%). HRR composite GDMT z-scores were inversely associated with the HRR median Gini coefficient (R =  -0.13; P  =  0.0218) and the percentage of low-income residents (R =  -0.117; P = 0.0413). CONCLUSIONS: Wide geographic differences exist for HFrEF care. Targeted strategies may be required to increase GDMT prescription for Veterans in lower-performing regions, including those affected by income inequality and poverty.

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