News | February 20, 2009

Heart Failure Society Offers User-Friendly Online Information for Patients

February 20, 2009 – The Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) recently posted 11 fact-filled education modules on its Web site (www.abouthf.org) where doctors can send their patients for more information to help them maintain their cardiovascular health.

The information was released for National Heart Failure Awareness Week Feb. 8-14. The Web site offers information on following a low sodium diet, exercise do’s and don’ts, managing medications, heart rhythm problems, and other factors commonly associated with heart failure. These modules are written in easy to read and understand language and can be downloaded free of charge.

While not intended to replace regular medical care, these modules can help patients and at risk individuals, family and friends communicate better with their doctor or nurse. For patients diagnosed with the disease and/or caretakers, Module 1, “Taking Control of Your Heart Failure,” provides an overview of the causes for heart failure and how to best care for yourself and manage symptoms, such as being diligent with prescribed medication regimens, the importance of a low-sodium diet and living a smoke-free lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and weight management.

Heart failure is very prominent in society as nearly 5 million Americans live with this condition and as many as 700,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. While patients are not alone, heart failure is often still difficult to endure for the many individuals it affects and they often experience feelings of depression and anxiety after diagnosis. Guidelines in Module 6, “Managing Feelings About Heart Failure,” can help patients and loved ones learn that they can manage emotions related to heart failure and ease feelings of distress, which is very important to the overall success of a heart failure treatment plan. The module also aims to help patients recognize symptoms of both depression (irritability, excessive sleepiness, feelings of hopelessness) and also anxiety (feelings of fear, tension, excessive worry and restlessness) so that they may know when to seek professional help as it is needed.

“Common signs of heart failure are often misdiagnosed and misunderstood,” said Barry Greenberg, M.D., HFSA immediate past president, professor of medicine and director, advanced heart failure treatment program at the University of California, San Diego. “It is the goal of HFSA to educate people about the common signs and symptoms of heart failure. National Heart Failure Awareness Week is a chance to highlight the facts, resources and opportunities that can help physicians, nurses, patients and their families, and at risk individuals better understand heart failure. Heart failure can be prevented and with proper care and diagnosis, can be effectively treated to allow many patients to live longer and more fulfilling lives.”

Available on the hfsa.org website are additional educational modules, such as “Tips for Family and Friends,” advice for “Advance Care Planning,” and help on “How to Follow a Low-Sodium Diet,” with other information available, such as a DVD and brochure, “What you should know about heart failure,” the FACES heart failure card, which lists prevention measures, symptoms and risk factors for heart failure, and many other useful resources.

For more information: www.abouthf.org

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