The cardiac-related conditions, which include congestive heart failure, hardening of the arteries, heart beat irregularities and heart attack accounted for nearly 2.4 million hospital stays in 2004, according to a new report by Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Pneumonia accounted for 713,000 admissions, the report says.
The next five leading reasons for hospitalizing the elderly included osteoarthritis, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rehabilitation care and fluid and electrolyte disorders.
While the causes of hospitalization have remained constant since 1997, the price of those hospitalizations has not, according to the data. The average hospital stay for elderly patients cost hospitals $9,800 in 2004, a more than 25 percent increase over the average cost in 1997.
Data for the study were drawn from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays information for 90 percent of all discharges in the United States.