Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2011 --- 4:25 p.m.
CHICAGO (AP) -- There's new evidence that the United States is making headway in reducing the hospital care required because of heart failure.
The study of 55 million Medicare patients finds that over the course of a decade, hospital stays for heart failure fell by 30 percent, saving billions of dollars.
But there was only a slight decline seen in deaths within a year of leaving the hospital. And the same level of progress wasn't seen among black men.
One expert says possible explanations for the overall decrease include healthier hearts and better control of risk factors like high blood pressure.
More than 5 million Americans have heart failure, in which hearts strain to pump blood because of damage, often from a heart attack or high blood pressure.
The research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Copyright 2011. The Associated Press.