As the pandemic continues, reducing the risk of heart failure hospitalization is more important than ever
It’s always critical for people with heart failure (HF) to take steps to keep healthy and to try to reduce the risk of hospital visits – but now, as these patients face increased health risks and hospitals are overburdened, it’s more important than ever.
HF is a chronic, progressive condition that can change the structure of the heart so it is unable to pump enough blood to the body. Patients with HF are inherently at increased risk of hospitalization for symptoms like shortness of breath or swelling – often in the legs, ankles, feet and/or abdomen. Hospitalizations for HF are a hallmark of disease progression, or worsening of the condition.
- Annually, HF accounts for about 1 million hospitalizations. That’s about 2 HF hospitalizations every minute in the U.S.
- A visit to hospital for heart failure can average between five and ten days – further, around one in four patients are re-admitted within 30 days of discharge, and one in ten may not survive.
- These recurrent experiences can profoundly disrupt the lives of patients and caregivers.
For people living with heart failure, hospitalizations can be a recurring part of life. But finding the right care plan with a health care provider can help people actively manage their condition to reduce their risk of HF hospitalizations.
Kim, for example, is a patient who used to experience frequent HF hospitalizations before changing her treatment regimen. Looking back, this hardworking single mom was referred to a lung specialist by her primary care physician because of a persistent cough that wouldn’t go away. At just 32 years of age, she was shocked to be diagnosed with chronic heart failure, a condition that would lead her to endure frequent heart failure hospitalizations over the next several years.
Fortunately, Kim was able to work with her health care team on a plan, including a healthy lifestyle and treatment regimen that would help manage this chronic condition. In fact, there are steps HF patients can take to help reduce the risk of a HF hospitalization. These can include following a low-salt diet, getting an appropriate amount of physical activity, and maintaining the treatment regimen advised by their health care provider.