Monitoring Heart Failure: May 15, 2014

About 6 million Americans are living with a failing heart.  For many it’s a struggle. Congestive heart failure sends more than ¾ of a million people to the hospital each year. Accounting for more visits than all the cancers combined. It is also a top cause for return trips.

“Readmission for heart failure nationally run 25% to 30% within 30 days,” says Lee Memorial Health System cardiologist, Dr. Richard Chazal. “Quite often we can identify reasons for readmissions such as inability or unwillingness to fill prescriptions, dietary issues or habits, eating large amount of food that could be high in sodium. Or alcohol consumption”

The term congestive heart failure means the heart is failing to do its job. Not pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Sudden weight gain, swelling, wheezing and fatigue are signs of trouble- without close monitoring, the condition is easy to mismanage.

“Each time a patient is brought into a hospital we bring all our resources to bear on patients to try and make sure they’re on the right medication, but they also have the right support system once they go home,” says Dr. Chazal.

One aspect of keeping heart failure patients healthy, involves Lee Memorial Health System’s telehealth program.  A remote monitoring system, people check in daily with a series of tests.

“They may have gained three pounds overnight and that’s too much weight gain because the more you gain, the more your heart has to pump fluid around,” says clinical manager Cindy Brady. “So if we can catch it on the front end and maybe give them an extra diuretic to get that fluid off of them that would keep them out of the hospital.”

Keeping close watch-can make the difference, providing just enough support to keep heart patients home.