February is American Heart Month. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5.8 million people in the U.S. suffer from heart failure, and 20 percent of them can die within one year of diagnosis.
Despite these daunting statistics, there are several ways for people living with advanced heart disease to improve their quality of life and better manage their symptoms.
Specialized cardiac care for hospice patients
One of our patients, Sophia, is an excellent example of someone whose life has greatly improved through a specialized cardiac program for hospice patients. Sophia is 89, lives at home, and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and aortic stenosis last year. She experienced increased chest pain and breathing distress, which led to debilitating fatigue and difficulty in walking. During a six-month period, Sophia went to the hospital emergency room four times for shortness of breath, chest pain and anxiety. She wanted to avoid the emergency room, but didn’t know how to manage her symptoms at home.
After Sophia and her family met with her primary care physician, they decided to enroll Sophia in the Care Dimensions Cardiac Program, which provides a customized plan to help manage the symptoms of advanced heart disease at home. This cardiac care plan helps patients learn to control their symptoms, while minimizing the re-occurrence of emergency room visits or hospitalization.
The Care Dimensions Cardiac Program encourages collaboration between the hospice clinical team and the patient’s primary care physician and/or cardiologist to develop an optimal and personalized plan of care. The program is designed to reduce stress and anxiety while promoting a better sense of well-being. Features can include:
- Daily check-in calls
- Routine assessment visits
- Telehealth monitoring equipment
- A cardiac care team
- An on-call nurse available 24/7
- Education and resources to help patients better manage symptoms while at home
The Care Dimensions interdisciplinary hospice team worked with Sophia and her family to determine if medical equipment, such as a hospital bed, oxygen and a nebulizer, were needed. She also elected to use our telehealth monitoring equipment, which prompts her daily to take her blood pressure and weight, and answer questions about other symptoms. Her information is reviewed by a nurse and if her symptoms seem elevated, a nurse calls or visits to get her symptoms managed before an emergency room visit or hospitalization is needed.
Cardiac program leads to less stress, better quality of life
Today, Sophia is fully utilizing the services and support of the Care Dimensions Cardiac Program. She has already experienced a huge reduction in stress and anxiety due to the ongoing support and constant monitoring from her hospice team. She has also noticed a marked improvement in her energy levels and an important decrease in painful respiratory symptoms often associated with advanced heart disease.
The Care Dimensions Cardiac Program provided Sophia a customized assessment of her symptoms and condition, expert guidance, and ongoing monitoring and support. This enabled Sophia to better manage her symptoms, while providing a much better quality of life and a renewed sense of independence and control.
Anyone living with advanced heart disease who may be experiencing two or more of the following symptoms may be eligible to benefit from this advanced cardiac care program:
- Recurrent heart failure causing frequent hospitalizations and/or emergency room visits
- Irregular heart rhythms that are resistant to treatment
- Increased shortness of breath and/or chest pain
- A history of unexplained fainting
- Diagnosis of stroke
The Cardiac Program is just one of several specialized, supportive programs offered by Care Dimensions. Let our 40 years of expertise improve your hospice experience. Please visit the Where Do I Start? page or call 888-287-1255 for more information or to make a referral.
Happy Heart Health!