However, because the research looked at the percent change between the two numbers, doctors would be comparing how a patient is doing from the time of admission to the time of discharge.
"This test is a way to stratify who is at the highest risk of readmission or death," Dr. Michtalik said. "You could see a certain percent change and know that you need to be more aggressive at the outpatient setting, plugging the patient into resources sooner, or titrating the medication in a certain way."
Dr. Michalik was somewhat surprised by the study results. "It seemed like a simple concept to test the same marker at discharge. I can understand why there is hesitance since you don't want to treat to achieve a certain number, but it is a way to stratify," he said. He added that the blood test costs about $50, depending on the institution.
About 5 million people in the United States have congestive heart failure. CHF causes about 300,000 deaths in the United States each year. According to an article published last year in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the cost of treating CHF varies widely from hospital to hospital. Researchers found that the cost of treating a patient for CHF ranges from about $1,500 to about $18,000.