Managing Heart Disease at Home  

American Heart Month graphic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, one person dies every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease. While the statistics appear grim, the good news is that cardiovascular disease diagnoses, including heart failure, can be successfully managed in the comfort of home with professional home health services.

Heart failure is a chronic condition that requires lifelong management to improve one’s overall health and quality of life. Individuals living with the diagnosis can manage some heart failure symptoms on their own with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. Specialized disease management programs, like those offered through Concordia’s home health agencies, further help heart failure patients by providing disease education and support, medication management and telehealth services.

Telehealth services are an integral component of a specialized disease management program and present opportunities for enhanced care in the comfort of one’s home. For patients diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease, they become part of their own multidisciplinary integrated care team and have access to instant communication with their home health clinical team and primary physician. The efficiency of telehealth greatly reduces unnecessary trips to their doctor’s office and hospitalizations.   

Related: 7 Days of Self-Care for Heart Health

Managing Heart Failure with Telehealth  

Amy Hortert, director of care transformation for Concordia’s home and community services, acknowledges how advances in telehealth medicine and specialized home health services can help treat and manage heart disease.

“Any home health patient can receive telehealth services,” Hortert said. “[For heart failure patients specifically], the primary benefit is the ability to trend their daily weight, blood pressure and oxygen saturation.”

For patients referred to telehealth services with Concordia, a telehealth tablet is sent directly to their home. The tablet is ready to go out of the box and has familiar icons that give the patient the ability to use any feature or dial into the office with the touch of a screen. The patient’s primary nurse provides education on how and when to use the device. Patients are educated to check their vitals between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily and have the option to check as often as they desire.

Each day, the patient’s vital signs are securely transmitted into the patient’s home health chart and reviewed by the clinical home health team.

“If the reading is abnormal, missing for the day or very different [from the patient’s baseline], our clinical team calls the patient to retest. If it continues to be abnormal, the patient’s provider is contacted and receives a report of the reading.”

This prompt communication allows the provider to detect subtle changes in clinical status before a patient’s condition deteriorates. Often, the provider can adjust the treatment plan or medications virtually in coordination with the clinical home health team.

Additionally, Concordia’s triage and weekend clinical teams have access to review their patient’s vitals at any time and can complete a virtual visit with patients during off hours if there is an issue.

Related: American Heart Month: Top Questions to Ask About Your Heart Health

The technology of the telehealth services offered by Concordia’s home health agencies, including Concordia Visiting Nurses, Concordia-IRMC VNA and Concordia Home Health and Hospice of Bethlen, extend far beyond a daily vitals check-in.

“Our telehealth system has survey questions for the patient to report any changes in symptoms or a general feeling of wellness,” Hortert said. “The system can set reminders to take specific medications at a specific time, hosts heart failure educational videos that the patient can access at any time and provides a heart failure zone tool that helps patients recognize and appropriately respond to their symptoms.”

Related: 7 Early Signs of a Heart Attack

Telehealth services provide just one of the many ways specialized home health services can help patients manage heart disease symptoms and regain independence and empowerment over their diagnosis. Each patient is unique in their diagnosis and each care plan is clinically designed to help the patient achieve and maintain optimal health.

If you or a loved one is living with a chronic or progressive disease and your doctor orders home health services, ask for Concordia’s home and community services and if telehealth services would be a good fit for your individual needs. For more information, call us at 1-877-352-6200 or send us a message through our contact form.

Founded in 1881, Concordia Lutheran Ministries is a faith-based, CARF-accredited Aging Services Network and recipient of the inaugural Pennsylvania Department of Aging Excellence in Quality Care Award. As one of the largest nonprofit senior care providers in the country, the organization serves 50,000 people annually through in-home care and inpatient locations in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and Tampa, Florida.

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