According to the Heart Failure (HF) Society of America (HFSOA), heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart’s pumping ability is impaired, causing any combination of the following symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling in the ankles and legs. With proper medication and lifestyle changes, however, persons with heart failure may live longer and feel better.
Because HF is a complex condition, persons with heart failure and their family members will need to continue life-long learning about the condition and treatments used to keep HF patients stable and out of the hospital.
According to the Joint Commission, persons with heart failure benefit from hospital discharge instructions that include information on activity level, diet, discharge medications, follow-up appointments, weight monitoring, and what to do if symptoms worsen. Hospital readmissions are common in persons with heart failure and educating patients and family members is crucial to successful heart failure management.
The most recent report (4th qtr., 2010) shows 89% of UAMS patients with heart failure received discharge instructions on activity, diet, medications, follow up, weight monitoring, and symptom management compared with the national average of 80% and the average for University Healthsystem Consortium of 91%.