Top 5 common causes of elderly hospitalization

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012

This article was updated on: 10/06/2018

According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) five conditions causing senior hospitalization are:

  1. Congestive heart failure
  2. Pneumonia
  3. Coronary atherosclerosis
  4. Cardiac dysrhythmias
  5. Heart attack

Most of these conditions involve the heart and are caused by similar risk factors.

What is congestive heart failure in the elderly and how do I avoid it?

Congestive heart failure, also known simply as heart failure, is when the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should, according to the Mayo Clinic. Congestive heart failure in the elderly is not the same as a heart attack, although heart failure can lead to a heart attack. Ways to prevent heart failure include controlling conditions that cause heart failure including:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

What is pneumonia in the elderly and how do I avoid it?

Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi according to the Mayo Clinic. People age 65 or older and age 2 years or younger at greatest risk for pneumonia. You may be able to avoid pneumonia by:

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Keeping your immune system strong
  • Not smoking

Learn more about Medicare coverage of the pneumonia vaccine.

What is coronary atherosclerosis in the elderly and how do I avoid it?

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in the artery walls that can restrict the blood flow to organs and tissues according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes atherosclerosis in the elderly can result in a blood clot that triggers a heart attack or stroke. Damage to the arteries may be caused by:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High triglycerides
  • Smoking and other tobacco use
  • Inflammation

Treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis could include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.

What is a cardiac dysrhythmia in the elderly and how do I avoid it?

Heart rhythm problems can be called arrhythmias or dysrhythmias. According to the Mayo Clinic, heart arrhythmias can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Some arrhythmias can be life threatening. Many factors can cause arrhythmias including:

  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea

If you lead a healthy lifestyle and manage other chronic conditions, you may be able to avoid problems caused by cardiac dysrhythmias.

What is a heart attack in the elderly and how do I avoid it?

A heart attack happens when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, according to the Mayo Clinic. Heart attacks are sometimes signaled by mild to severe chest pain and can be fatal. Risk factors for heart attack include:

  • Tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and high triglyceride levels
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart attack
  • An inactive lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Drug abuse

Learn more about “silent” heart attacks.

Does Medicare cover me when I’m in the hospital?

Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care but charges a deductible and coinsurance. Part A coverage usually ends at or before 150 days of hospitalization. A Medicare Supplement insurance plan (Medigap) could cover the Part A deductible, and Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up. Learn more about how a Medicare Supplement insurance plan could help you manage hospital costs.

Do you have questions about Medicare coverage when you’re in the hospital?

I can help you understand your Medicare coverage options. Just follow the links below to set up a time to talk with me by phone, or have me email you customized information about Medicare plan options.

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