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Barsky, Lili. The Influence of Pet Ownership on Heart Failure Readmission Rates.


Background: Pet or domesticated animal ownership is an increasingly popular lifestyle trend that can have a potentially complex impact upon the trajectory of a patient’s cardiovascular disease. This study seeks to examine the effect of pet ownership on 60 day heart failure (HF) readmission rates.

Methods: The hospital’s admission database was queried to identify all patients admitted with a diagnosis of HF from January 2015 to March 2017. For those patients who consented to participate, a phone interview was conducted to inquire about pet ownership status, number and type of pets, ownership experience and outside hospital admission history. The medical charts were reviewed to verify 60 day readmission status and diagnosis and to collect further demographic and clinical data. A chi-square test was used to investigate correlations with readmission rates, demographic attributes and clinical attributes between the pet owner and non-pet owner populations.

Results: Of the 191 subjects in the study population, 44 owned at least one cat or dog, and 147 did not. Among pet owners, 15/44 (34%) were readmitted within 60 days, compared to 78/147 (53%) of non-pet owners (95% confidence interval, P = 0.027). There was no observed correlation between readmission rate and the variables of pet species or quantity owned, socioeconomic class, age, gender, alcohol and tobacco use, ejection fraction, coronary artery disease and clinical management. While pet owners tended to be younger, there was no significant difference in the other described attributes between the pet and non-pet owner groups. Both re-admitted and non-readmitted pet owners endorsed comparable levels of stress and happiness associated with their animals. They all identified their pets as “companions.”

Conclusion: Ownership of one or more cats or dogs appears to be associated with a lower 60 day HF readmission rate. Further, inquiring about pet ownership and experience among patients seems to be a highly useful tool for building rapport and enhancing the patient-physician interaction.

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