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One-third of all patients admitted to the Nation's community hospitals are elderly

Although only 12 percent of the U.S. population was age 65 and older in 2003, data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows that they accounted for one-third (over 13 million) of all hospital stays. In addition, hospital charges for the elderly totaled nearly $329 billion, or 43.6 percent of the national hospital bill in 2003.

The most common procedure performed on elderly patients was blood transfusion. Nearly one of every 11 elderly patients in the hospital received a transfusion (1.2 million transfusions). Other common procedures performed in the hospital for the elderly were diagnostic cardiac catheterization and coronary arteriography (852,300), upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and biopsy (690,700), respiratory intubation and mechanical ventilation (500,900), and percutaneous coronary angioplasty (401,900). The 5 leading reasons why elderly patients were hospitalized, by number of admissions, were congestive heart failure (839,300), pneumonia (770,400), coronary atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries (675,700), cardiac dysrhythmias (484,200), and acute myocardial infarction or heart attack (449,000).

These and other data are in Hospitalizations in the Elderly Population, 2003: HCUP Statistical Brief #6 at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs.jsp.

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