Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hospital Heart Failure Program A Success!

St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin began a heart failure program in 2006 with the intent of lowering re-admissions and improving the overall health and wellbeing of their patients. The program consists of many different components, from encouraging patients to maintain an active lifestyle and eat right, to a weekly call from a nurse for all heart disease patients.

During the call the nurse and patient monitor blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar if they are diabetic. It also gives patients the opportunity to ask any questions that may be on their mind, though they encourage their patients to call right away if they have any questions. This small change alone has made a big difference, doctors say.

Two years after later St. Mary’s say they are able to see the difference this program has made. Numbers of re-admissions are going down and the health of their patients is improving. The hospital has seen an 80 percent reduction in hospital admissions and length of stay, compared to three months prior to the program.

Hopefully other hospitals will follow in their footsteps and find a way to reduce their own admissions and re-admissions, while improving the quality of life for their patients.

Congestive heart failure can be a fatal condition and nearly 50 percent of those diagnosed die within 5 years of receiving the news. It is also responsible for over 1 million hospitalizations each year and has the highest rate of inpatient readmissions.

Simply put, congestive heart failure is when the heart cannot function adequately as a pump to deliver oxygen rich blood to the body. It can be caused by many things, including high blood pressure, long-term alcohol abuse, coronary artery disease and disorders of the heart valves. Symptoms vary from fatigue, shortness of breath, sleeplessness, increased urination, decreased appetite and swelling of the ankles, legs or abdomen.

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