(HealthDay News) — US patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) are being hospitalized more often than before, according to a study published online in Circulation.

James Freeman, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn, and colleagues looked at 1999 to 2013 Medicare data on patients 65 and older with AF.

The researchers found that during that time, hospitalizations rose nearly 1% a year. There was also a significant increase in the cost of hospital stays for these patients (from $2932 to $4719 per stay). However, the 30-day hospital readmission rate decreased by 1%. Mortality rates in the 30 days following a hospital stay also dropped, as did mortality rates in the year after a hospital stay, by 0.4% and 0.26%, respectively.

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“Between 1999 and 2013, among Medicare fee-for service beneficiaries, patients were hospitalized more frequently and treated with more costly inpatient therapies such as AF catheter ablation, but this was associated with improved outcomes including lower rates of in-hospital mortality, 30-day readmission, 30-day mortality, and one-year mortality,” the authors write.

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  1. Freeman JV, Wang Y, Akar JG, et al. National Trends in Atrial Fibrillation Hospitalization, Readmission,and Mortality for Medicare Beneficiaries, 1999-2013. Circulation. 1 February 2017. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.022388.