HealthDay News — In-hospital mortality among patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is higher in rural hospitals than in urban hospitals, according to a study published online in Heart Rhythm.

Wesley T. O’Neal, MD, MPH, from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the National Inpatient Sample (2012-2014) to compare in-hospital, all-cause mortality for 248,731 patients with AF (mean age, 69 years; 78% white; 48% women) admitted to urban vs rural hospitals.

Eighty-eight percent of hospital admissions were to urban hospitals and 12% were to rural hospitals. The researchers observed a 17% increased risk of death for patients admitted to rural hospitals vs those admitted to urban hospitals. 

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These findings accounted for differences in patient characteristics and other potential confounders. Similar results were seen both in propensity score-matched analysis and in subgroup analyses (eg, sex, race, and region).

“Further research is needed to understand this finding and to develop targeted strategies to reduce mortality in patients admitted for AF in rural hospitals,” the authors write.

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O’Neal W, Sandesara PB, Kelli HM, Venkatesh S, Soliman EZ. Urban-rural differences in mortality for atrial fibrillation hospitalizations in the United States [published online December 11, 2017]. Heart Rhythm. doi:10.1016/j.hrthm.2017.10.019