Congestive Heart Failure: What is it? How is it monitored?

By: Chris Curry Email
By: Chris Curry Email

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In this edition of "Smart Heart" we're talking about congestive heart failure.

Around 5-million people in the country have congestive heart failure. The condition is the number 1 reason why older people end up in the hospital.

The condition occurs when the heart stops pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to flow back into the lungs and tissues. That can lead to breathing problems and pain.

University Hospital works to keep tabs on patients, even after their hospital stay is over, using telemonitoring. Doctors have patients enter information using their phone.

"So each patient is asked to weigh daily and record the weight. If the patients gains more than three pounds within the week, then there is a high probability that this patient is accumulating extra fluid. Also if the patient has shortness of breath or swelling, or they have post-nocturnal dispena, meaning they awake at night short of breath, these are all indication that the patient may have excess fluid," said Nancy Rabron, a nurse who works with heart patients.

Doctors use the information to reduce a patient's fluids. Nurses say the monitoring program cuts down on extra emergency room visits.

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