Background: Prior studies have shown that patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) have increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. BRIdging the Discharge Gap Effectively (BRIDGE) is a nurse practitioner-delivered cardiac transitional care program for patients who have been recently discharged following a cardiac event. Previous research has shown BRIDGE to be effective in improving patient outcomes. This study sought to describe differences in outcomes 1) of heart failure (HF), acute coronary syndrome (ACS), and atrial fibrillation (AF) patients with and without concomitant DM, and 2) between diabetic patients who did and did not attend BRIDGE.
Methods: Retrospective data were abstracted for HF, ACS, and AF patients from 2008-2014. Patients were divided into cohorts based on presence or absence of DM and BRIDGE attendance versus non-attendance. Outcomes (readmissions, ED visits, death) within each primary diagnosis (HF, ACS, AF) were compared between DM and non-DM patients and between those who attended BRIDGE versus those who did not for all DM patients.
Results: Of 2197 patients referred to BRIDGE, 723 (32.9%) had concomitant DM. DM patients had similar outcomes to non-DM patients for most post-discharge outcomes; however, DM ACS patients had higher readmission (42.2% v 29.6%, p<0.001) and death (10.5% v. 4.5%, p=0.001) rates within 6 months, and DM AF patients had higher readmission rates within 6 months (52.1% v 37.9%, p=0.006). HF patients with DM who attended BRIDGE had lower mortality rates within 6 months of discharge than those who did not (10.3% vs. 22.1%, p=0.014). No other significant differences in outcomes were seen between BRIDGE attendees and non-attendees.
Conclusions: Though not significant, patients with DM had worse post-discharge outcomes than those without DM for all primary diagnoses. In the subset of DM patients, the 30-day readmission rate for ACS patients who attended BRIDGE was half of those who did not attend. Conversely, 30-day readmission rates for HF patients were greater if they attended. This may in part explain the significantly lower mortality rate among BRIDGE attenders with HF, where patients who needed readmission were identified during their BRIDGE appointment. Due to the high prevalence of DM, efforts to tailor transitional care for this population are needed.