Published on October 09, 2017

New clinic helps heart failure patients live better

Living with heart failure isn’t always easy.

In fact, the condition is a common reason why people are hospitalized—sometimes more than once.

Now a new outpatient clinic at St. Mary Medical Center is helping people with heart failure manage their disease so they can stay healthy and avoid repeat trips to the hospital.

Intervening at a critical time The clinic opened in September, and providers see patients three days a week, says Ruth Levine, MSN, ACNP-BC, the nurse practitioner who manages patients at the clinic. Most patients with heart failure come to the clinic soon after leaving the hospital, but before they have an appointment to see their cardiologist. That’s when they’re often at high risk for another heart failure episode. The hope is to connect them to the clinic at that critical point, Levine says.

According to Levine, education can be empowering for people with heart failure—a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. At the clinic patients learn, for instance, the importance of medication adherence and how to control their sodium intake. Eating a low-salt diet helps prevent fluid retention, which strains an already weakened heart.

“Our patients are active participants in their care,” Levine says. “We help them learn about heart failure and how to maintain their independence.”

Comprehensive care Preventing hospital stays is just part of the overall goal of the clinic, says Kulpreet Barn, MD, Medical Director of the Heart Failure Program and a cardiologist at St. Mary Medical Center. Having a dedicated heart failure clinic fills a big need in the community for treatments and education in one setting.

“And in the process we hope to help our patients feel better, live longer and stay out of the hospital,” he says.