NEW YORK – The possibility of dying from a common heart rhythm disorder is 17 percent higher for people treated at rural hospitals compared to those treated in urban hospitals, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed data from hospitalizations for the heart ailment known as atrial fibrillation — or a-fib — in the United States between 2012 and 2014. A-fib can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other complications.
If untreated, a-fib doubles the risk for heart-related death and is associated with a five-fold increased risk for stroke, according to the American Heart Association. The study found that people with a-fib who’d been admitted to rural hospitals were 17 percent more likely to die while hospitalized than were those admitted to urban hospitals.
Experts say the focus now shifts to finding out why the death rate is higher in rural hospitals and taking steps to reduce the risks.