News | February 24, 2015

New Helpline for Heart-Failure Patients Aimed at Reducing Re-admissions

Stronger Hearts Helpline pilot program centralizes resources to educate, improve access to care

Stronger Hearts Helpline, heart failure, telecardiology, California

Maxwell Ohikhuare, M.D., San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, speaks at the launch of a new community helpline for heart-failure patients. The new Stronger Hearts Helpline will provide patients and caregivers with free, 24/7 resources to help them understand and manage heart failure.

February 24, 2015 — The National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention announced the launch of the Stronger Hearts Helpline, a 24/7 free call-center resource for people with heart failure and their families. The pilot program is an addition to the existing 2-1-1 information and referral hotline in San Bernardino County, California – a region where nearly 20 percent of Medicare recipients are being treated for heart failure – and long-term plans are to expand the service nationwide.

“Many people with heart failure don’t fully understand the intricacies of the disease; to them, it may sound like a death sentence,” said Maxwell Ohikhuare, M.D., health officer for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. “The Stronger Hearts Helpline will give them easier access to information that can help them take control of their condition and stay healthier longer. I am thrilled that the National Forum chose our community to pilot this important resource.”

Heart failure is a complex condition with several causes and symptoms, and thus it can be difficult to understand and manage properly. With the bilingual Stronger Hearts Helpline, callers simply dial 2-1-1 (or 888-435-7565) and ask for the Stronger Hearts Helpline to receive confidential support from trained, live operators who can direct them to free or low-cost services.

Resources provided through the helpline include referrals to medical professionals and clinics; information about heart failure and its treatment, exercise programs, nutrition and mental health programs; and help with transportation to a doctor’s appointment.

Stronger Hearts builds on San Bernardino County’s existing 2-1-1 program, which provides a variety of health and community resources to local residents. The helpline was made possible through funding from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

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