By Phaedra McDonough, APRN

The Center for Cardiovascular Health at BMH launched a new program last August specifically supporting patients in our community who have been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). Congestive Heart Failure is a condition where your heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of those struggling with this disease, prevent those who have CHF from further compromise and decrease the overall cost of caring for this very disease.

Phaedra McDonough, APRN
Phaedra McDonough, APRN

Heart failure is the most expensive chronic illness to manage. Nationally, it is the most common reason for hospitalization in patients 65 and older, accounting for one-fifth of all admissions. We know that of the 25 billion dollars spent each year on treatment, 60% is spent on hospitalization costs. The federal government has recognized the huge financial burden heart failure places on our society thus prompting the development of strict guidelines both in terms of standards of care for heart failure and reimbursement rates.

These standards have been designed to improve how heart failure patients are identified, how symptoms are monitored and treated, and how to help them effectively manage their disease through education and tools to monitor their disease; such as scales and blood pressure monitors. This strong focus on co-management of congestive heart failure by both clinician and patients has already been shown to improve patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs.

Congestive heart failure rarely stands alone. It is usually associated with multiple comorbidities or additional health compromises such as coronary artery disease, valvular disease, diabetes, hypertension, depression, sedentary lifestyle and obesity, kidney disease, high cholesterol and/or sleep apnea; all of which need to be addressed in order to successfully treat congestive heart failure. A multidisciplinary approach to treating patients with heart failure has proven helpful in decreasing hospital readmissions. The five-year mortality or death rate for individuals diagnosed with heart failure is 50%.

The heart failure team at the Center for Cardiovascular Health at BMH is comprised of cardiologists, a nurse practitioner, three nurses and the patient. We offer comprehensive, detailed care with frequent follow up and long term management of heart failure. We work closely with BMH hospitalists, case managers and primary care providers. In addition, we are reaching out to our community by teaming up with the visiting nurses association, primary care providers, skilled nursing homes and community businesses to help tie the community together in improving outcomes. It is our hope that our efforts will improve the quality of life of those diagnosed with congestive heart failure as well as provide an improved support structure and resource center for our community.

Phaedra McDonough is a Nurse Practitioner with The Center for Cardiovascular Health at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. She can be reached at 802-275-3699.

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