Things you can do about having Heart Failure!
Things you can do about having Heart Failure!
Heart failure develops when heart fails to pump blood properly to supply body’s demand or is able to do it only by elevating the filling pressure of the ventricles. Since is a pumping problem in the beginning, heart will try to keep the pumping function at all costs by developing compensatory mechanisms which ultimately result in worsening the condition
Diagnosis doesn’t come easy most of the time because the symptoms might not be obvious, and patients often blame age or obesity which keeps them from discussing it with their PCP. Several times, the lack of medical literacy results in not recognizing early signs and symptoms for many patients. This delays the diagnosis, and unfortunately, most patients are diagnosed when they are already in advanced stages of the disease.
Medical Literacy is defined by the The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions.”
Rates of Medical Literacy can be very low and vary among the country. This can lower the quality of care that patients receive affecting their overall health, but this is a longer topic for a future blog.
Some Non-pharmacologic strategies patients can engage in:
Several patients may feel that there's nothing else they can do after they're diagnosed with HF other than just take medications as prescribed, but engaging actively instead of passively with your health will impact positively, and as small as changes might seem, they are important.
Small changes matter and can make the difference!
Non Adherence: A typical patient with Heart Failure is an older individual who might have one or more chronic conditions associated, and of course, takes multiple medications for these conditions, which increases the possibility of not adhering to numerous pills and a complex regimen putting theirself at a higher risk of complications, hospitalizations and mortality.
Table 1. Causes of Non-Adherence, World Health Organization
Things patients can still have control over could be:
- Home Care Services: Although there are many causes for patients to be non-adherent to HF treatment, those that count with a caregiver who helps them with medication reminders are more adherent to their treatment and potentially reduce symptoms, rehospitalizations, cardiac events and mortality.
- Medication regimen programs: Communication between HF patients, family members and patient's clinicians and pharmacists could lead to a simpler and more efficient medication regimen. For example, extended release medications that reduce frequency of medication; combination drug reduces number of pills taken could be options to discuss with clinicians and pharmacists expecially for patients with polypharmacy issues. Other wise and good options that a medication reconciliation provides is checking for drud-drug interactions, duplicated drugs, adverse effects, etc. After all, nobody likes to be taking multiple pills all day long! It's exhausting and decreases patient's sense of control and wellbeing. When patients and families ask questions and better understand what medications are for, their side effects, duration and consquences, this not only empowers them and brings their autonomy back, but also works as feedback for healthcare team members involved in patient's care.
- Controlling Weight: Daily weight control at the same hour is a great habit and according to the American Heart Association, it should preferably be done before breakfast and after urinating. If you gain three or more pounds in just one day or five or more pounds in a week you should contact your Doctor as soon as possible.
- Quit smoking, limit caffeine, and limit your fluid intake according to physician's orders are some other things that patient can still have control over and implement by themselves or with their loved one's help. Many HF patients take the "water pill" prescribed by their physician to help maintain an adequate fluid balance.
- Eating a healthy heart diet has demonstrated to have positive cardiovascular effects in many medical scientific studies during the last years. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, skinless poultry and some other healthy options are recommended. Here are some really good ideas to switch bad and old habits for new and healthier ones: "Conquer Cravings with these healthy substitutions" and "How to eat Healthy without Dieting".
At Talem Home Care Orlando we can certainly help you to keep your autonomy and support you with these simple but important things.
Certified Senior Advisor
Talem Home Care and Placement Services Orlando
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