According to the American Heart Association, heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization in people older than 65.
What is heart failure?
Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body's other organs. The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Usually, the heart's diminished capacity to pump reflects a progressive, underlying condition.
How does heart failure affect the body?
Heart failure interferes with the kidney's normal function of eliminating excess sodium and waste products from the body. In congestive heart failure, the body retains more fluid, resulting in swelling of the ankles and legs. Fluid also collects in the lungs, which can cause profound shortness of breath.
People with heart failure have symptoms such as shortness of breath, a persistent cough, swelling of the feet or legs, tiredness and weight gain.
There are many things a person can do to slow the progression of the disease and control the symptoms. Specific treatment for heart failure will be determined by your health care provider based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent and cause of the disease
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
The goal of any treatment for heart failure is to improve a person's quality of life by empowering them to make appropriate lifestyle changes and implementing drug therapy. A heart failure management program, such as the Cardiac Home Monitoring Program offered by Barnabas Health Home Care (BHHC), is key to ensuring continuity of care and avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations and visits to the Emergency Room.
Patient enrolled in the Program are prompted each day to take their own vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level and weight) using equipment provided by BHHC. The information is immediately transmitted to the BHHC office where a Cardiac Nurse Specialist monitors the data and responds to potential problems according to guidelines recommended by the patient's physicians. BHHC contacts the doctor is there is a need for medical intervention or medication adjustments.
For more information about heart failure, visit healthlibrary.barnabashealth.org.
For more information about the Barnabas Health Home Care Cardiac Home Monitoring Program, call 973-243-9666 (northern NJ) or 732-818-6800 (central and southern NJ).