Malignant and benign phenotypes of multimorbidity in heart failure: Implications for clinical practice

Lei Chen, Yih Kai Chan, Lucy Busija, Tone M. Norekval, Barbara Riegel, Simon Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The impact of different patterns of multimorbidity in heart failure (HF) on health outcomes is unknown. Objectives: The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that, independent of the extent of comorbidity, there are distinctive phenotypes of multimorbidity that convey an increased risk for premature mortality in patients hospitalized with HF. Methods: We analyzed the clinical profile and health outcomes of 787 patients hospitalized with HF participating in a multidisciplinary HF management program with a minimum 12-month follow-up. A Classification and Regression Tree model was applied to explore the distinctive combinations of 10 most prevalent concurrent conditions (other than coronary artery disease and hypertension) associated with 12-month all-cause mortality. Results: Mean (SD) age was 74 (12) years (59% men), and 65% had left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Most patients (88%) had 3 or more comorbid conditions, with a mean of 4.3 concurrent conditions in addition to HF. A total of 248 patients (32%) died (median, 663 [IQR, 492-910] days), including 142 deaths (18%) within 12 months. Patients with concurrent dysrhythmia, anemia, and respiratory disease experienced significantly higher 12-month all-cause mortality than those without these conditions (36.1% vs 3.6%, respectively; hazard ratio, 6.1 [95% confidence interval, 2.0-19.1]). Overall, this "malignant" phenotype of multimorbidity was associated with not only a markedly increased risk of all-cause mortality but also more unplanned readmissions, longer inpatient stays, and highest costs in the short (30-day) and longer terms when compared with more "benign" phenotypes of multimorbidity. Conclusions: We found a differential pattern of health outcomes according to pattern of comorbidity present in older patients hospitalized with HF and exposed to postdischarge, multidisciplinary management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-266
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • comorbidity
  • heart failure
  • hospitalization
  • mortality
  • multimorbidity


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