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Heart failure is one of the main causes of hospitalization in Italy. In some industrialized countries since the second half of 1990s a halt in the grow rate of hospitalization for this pathology has been observed, and in some cases a reversal. The aim of this study was to evaluate the trend of hospitalization for heart failure in Italy in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003.National hospital discharge data for years 2001, 2002 and 2003 were analysed.Heart failure hospitalization increased from 193 042 in 2001 to 205 043 in 2002 (+6.2%) and to 211 183 in 2003 (+3% with respect to 2002). In 2003 heart failure was the primary medical cause of hospitalization (1.6%). Hospitalization for heart failure accounted in 2003 for 2% of global hospitalization costs.Heart failure is the primary cause of hospitalization in Italy and the rate of hospital admission from 2001 to 2003 continued to increase, as well as related costs. These data indicate the urgent need for implementation of new models for the management of heart failure, based on a healthcare network, including hospital, ambulatory and home care, potentially capable of ameliorating both quality of life and costs of assistance.