Too Many Hospitalized Heart Failure Patients on IV Fluids

Patients who receive IV fluids more likely to have serious issues

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TUESDAY, Feb. 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Potentially harmful intravenous (IV) fluids are being given to too many patients with severe heart failure, according to a new study published in the Feb. 1 issue of JACC: Heart Failure.

In the study, a team led by Behnood Bikdeli, M.D., a research scholar at Yale University's Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation in New Haven, Conn., looked at data from 131,430 hospitalizations of severe heart failure patients. All of the patients received IV fluids during their first two days in hospital, and 11 percent were treated with IV fluids in addition to diuretics.

Compared to those who received diuretics alone, patients who received diuretics and IV fluids were more likely to have serious problems such as a need for feeding tubes, dialysis, and admission to a critical care unit, the researchers found. They were also more likely to die.

"Our findings are surprising and provocative," Bikdeli said in a university news release. "We need to better understand who these patients are, why they received intravenous fluids, and whether use of intravenous fluids was the cause of their worse outcomes. In the interim, it would be helpful for hospital administrators to promote policies that help reduce inadvertent use of intravenous fluids for patients with heart failure."

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