Hospital Stays Longer Without Prophylactic Laxatives

Findings among elderly congestive heart failure patients taking laxatives at home

WEDNESDAY, May 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Failure to use prophylactic laxatives in elderly congestive heart failure (CHF) patients who use laxatives at home is associated with a significantly longer hospital length of stay (LOS), according to a study published online May 13 in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Kyle Staller, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assessed home and hospital laxative use upon admission of 618 older patients (≥65 years) with a diagnosis of CHF.

The researchers found that nearly one-third (32.5 percent) were using laxatives at home, while 41.1 percent were started on a prophylactic laxative on admission. LOS did not significantly differ between patients receiving prophylaxis and those who did not (P = 0.32). LOS was one day longer for patients using laxatives at home compared to those not using laxatives at home (six versus five days; P = 0.03). Among patients using laxatives at home, LOS was two days longer for those who were not given prophylactic laxatives on admission (eight versus six days; P = 0.002). Failure to use constipation prophylaxis in patients using laxatives at home was the only independent predictor of increased LOS (P = 0.03), in multivariate analysis.

"Our data suggest that routine use of bowel prophylaxis for elderly CHF patients with preexisting constipation may reduce LOS," the authors write.

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