For seriously ill patients with a heart valve infection, shortening their time in hospital and continuing treatment in their own home may be a good idea. This is evident from new research from heart centres all over Denmark.
Traditionally, these patients have been admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotic injections for a period of up to six weeks. However, a research project has shown that it is safe for patients to be transitioned to treatment with tablets and discharged after the acute phase to then continue treatment at home. This spares patients and their families the stress of a long admission.
New results show that not only is treatment with tablets and early discharge just as safe as the traditional approach to treatment where the patient is admitted to hospital for a period of up to six weeks, it is actually better.
"We were very surprised when we saw the results after several years' follow-up. Patients who received some of their treatment at home have slightly better chances of survival. If we look at the risk of contracting a new heart disease and other complications, these patients also fare better," explained the two principal researchers of the study, Henning Bundgaard, a consultant at Rigshospitalet, and Kasper Iversen, a consultant at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.
Photo: Henning Bundgaard (left), a consultant at Rigshospitalet, and Kasper Iversen, a consultant at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, are principal researchers in the study about treatment at home for patients with a heart valve infection.
A heart valve infection can lead to serious conditions if it is not treated quickly. Between 15% and 25% of patients die when they are in the acute phase.
Researchers cannot explain why patients who were transitioned to treatment with tablets and discharged early fare better in the long term. However, they mention that other studies have shown that for several other conditions, patients also recover more quickly when they are discharged quickly.
The exciting results have been published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
A total of 400 Danish patients participated in the trial. Half of these patients received traditional treatment with antibiotics injections and were in hospital for a long time, while the other half were discharged after the acute phase and took medicine at home.
In Denmark about 600 patients are diagnosed with a heart infection every year.
In addition to Rigshospitalet and Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Nordsjællands Hospital, Odense University Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital, Aalborg University Hospital and Zealand University Hospital in Roskilde contributed to the research collaboration.