Heart Health: Taking Care Of Heart Failure Patients, Tips From Expert
Heart failure is also known as congestive heart failure. It is a condition in which the heart is not able to pump blood normally like a healthy heart. This usually happens due to weakening of heart muscles.
High blood pressure can trigger the risks of heart failure
- Symptoms of heart failure can also be controlled with preventive measures
- Add more fiber and antioxidants to your heart health diet
- A healthy diet can help you reduce heart disease risk
According to a study, there are around 10 million people suffering with heart failure in India. According to Inter-CHF study, heart failure patients in India had one of the highest mortality rates after one year of diagnosis at 23%. Hence, it is necessary to ensure that the symptoms of heart failure are not overlooked. The problem can sometimes worsen and may require sudden hospitalization for proper treatment. Either as a patient or a caregiver, hospitalization can feel scary. Therefore, it is important to have a strong support system.
Post discharge from hospital, it is very important to carefully monitor symptoms and adhere to the medications and lifestyle modifications suggested by your doctor.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you or a loved one has just been hospitalized due to heart failure.
According to data sources, about 46% of heart failure patients die within 1 year of diagnosis due to cardiac reasons. Currently, heart failure costs the world economy a huge amount of money every year and 1/3 of heart failure patients in India die in the hospital within 6 months of treatment.
Preparing for discharge
Post discharge healthcare services are improving but they are not slowing down the rate of rehospitalization. For those, who are above 65 years of age, discharge to long-term care increased significantly from 17% in 2000 to 21% in 2010.
Thus, couple of days before discharge, a discharge plan can be discussed with the doctor. This will help provide clear guidance on how to best care for yourself or your loved one after leaving the hospital. Some questions you can ask the doctor are:
a. Ask the doctor what symptoms you should be keeping an eye on and what these symptoms might mean?
b. Create an action plan if these symptoms occur. Should you get to a hospital immediately? Should you call the doctor?
c. Ask your doctor how often you should be checking for symptoms and how to record the data
d. Any changes to the medication plan should be discussed including details of how often and when they need to be taken. Any specific doubts about medication should be clarified.
e. Inquire from your doctor whether there any activities that cannot be performed after going home
f. Any dietary recommendations i.e. foods to be avoided or beneficial foods should also be discussed
On the day of being discharged from the hospital, make sure you have dates for follow-up appointments. Depending on what the doctor recommends, these could be scheduled for a few days or a few weeks after leaving hospital. It's also important to understand how best you can contact the hospital/ doctor when required, especially in case of any emergencies.
Home sweet home
Once home, ensure that:
- Symptoms are being monitored regularly. The symptom checker can also help in keeping track
- Medication is being taken regularly and on time, as suggested by the doctor. Medication strictly can't be stopped without discussing with the doctor
- Lifestyle and dietary changes recommended by the doctor are followed
International Congestive Heart Failure (INTER-CHF) prospective cohort study
The annual global economic burden of heart failure
Data from Trivandrum Heart Failure Registry in Kerala, India
(About the author- Dr. Sundeep Mishra, Professor of Cardiology, AIIMS, New Delhi)
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