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Battling VIDEO

Heart Disease: Worse For Women Than Men?

Categories: VIDEO | December 10th, 2011 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=vCkDjDjbQxk%3Fversion%3D3%26f%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Do men really have it easy? Can heart disease really be worse just because you’re a woman? Dr. Bob gives the answer. For more health tips and information visit www.DrBobShow.com.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Tai chai benefits heart failure patients

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | September 20th, 2010 | by Raquel | one comments

Patients with heart failure cannot perform the physical exercise their body needs. Luckily, there are alternative forms of exercise which are low-intensity that cater not only to the patient’s physical needs but also to his/her psychological and spiritual needs.

There was a time when oriental forms of exercise such as yoga and tai chi were only for the few enlightened free thinkers. But nowadays, these practices have become mainstream and are actually well-accepted in the medical field and are even subjects of medical research.

In a recent study, researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston report that patients who took part in tai chi classes shoed significant improvements in quality of ilfe outcomes. In addition, the patients also gained enough confidence and initiative to try other higher intensity forms of physical exercise. In terms of clinical outcomes, practicing tai chi did not bring about improvements that were considered statistically significant but the trend for improvement is there.

According to study author Dr Gloria Yeh:

“There’s a bit of a disconnect between our finding improvements in quality of life, mood, perception of being able to do more, and feeling better, vs [no significant improvement in] exercise performance measured by six-minute walk or [peak VO2] on a bicycle exercise test… But having said that, we did see some change in six-minute-walk distance. It didn’t reach significance between the two groups, but there was actually a 35-m improvement in the tai chi group over the 12 weeks of the study. So something did happen. And our other measures said they at least perceived that they were doing more.”

But what is tai chi?

Tai chi is a Chinese form of martial arts that has been practiced in China for thousands of years. Although it is basically a “combat exercise”, it has its roots in ancient oriental philosophy, especially the principle of yin and yang. Of course tai chi as practiced in modern times especially in the Western world may not be as it used to be. Anybody who has been to Asia and saw how many people, sometimes up to hundreds, perform the tai chi movements en masse would know how fascinating this form of exercise is.

In a recent trip to Southeast Asia with a short stopover in China, I travelled with a group of middle-aged and elderly Chinese tourists. Somewhere along the way, several got up and performed tai chi movements in the aisles of the jumbo jet. They were such a sight to see, so graceful in such a cramped space.

Dr. Yeh said that although the benefits of tai chi could not be measured in terms of lab tests and other conventional measures of treatment efficacy, the benefits are there – in terms of improvement in quality of life and mood disturbances. Thus, tai chi and other similar forms of exercise shouldn’t be simply taken for granted or even dismissed.

“A narrow focus on measured exercise performance may underestimate the impact of integrated interventions such as tai chi.”

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Acupuncture for heart failure patients

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | July 5th, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

Heart failure patients need physical activity but their hearts are too weak to do much exercise. So what’s a heart failure patient to do? The answer is needles – the traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture. This was reported by a pilot study by researchers at the University of Heidelberg Hospital.

Heart failure is condition characterized by chronic weakness of the heart muscle resulting in less efficient heart pumping. The reduction in heart power also translates in reduction in physical capacity to perform everyday actives like walking or climbing the stairs. In addition, the autonomic nervous system and its neurotransmitters become imbalanced, which further worsens the symptoms of shortness of breath and fatigue. The patient becomes intolerant to physical exertion.

How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture doesn’t help with the heart muscle itself but rather influences the skeletal muscles. It counteracts the imbalance in the autonomic and parasympathetic nervous systems and “influences the autonomic nervous system (excitation), boosts the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation), and also has an anti-inflammatory affect.”

In other words, the needle fight the fatigue and the exhausting, enabling the patients to tolerate more exercise.

The study results showed that those patients who received real acupuncture could walk longer distances and felt less fatigue than those patients who got the dud needles.

In addition, Acupuncture was also shown to influence the inflammation markers. These markers activate the so-called ergoreceptors which signal skeletal muscle exhaustion. Acupuncture was shown to reduce the levels of these markers including TNF alpha which reduces muscle mass and muscle strength.

This study has a great advantage over other studies on acupuncture that lend credence to its results. It compared real acupuncture with “placebo acupuncture” which used dull needles on blinded heart failure patients, e.g. the patients did not know which needles they received.

According to study leader Dr. Johannes Backs

“Most studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture have methodological weaknesses, as there are no placebo controls and the study participants are not ‘blinded’. This means that the patients know which treatment they are given and may therefore have certain expectations. In our studies, all patients thought they had received ‘real’ acupuncture.”

Acupuncture is currently being used as a low-cost adjunct therapy to current clinical practices. It has been shown to reduce side effects of chemotherapy and improve quality of life of cancer patients and is recommended to improve blood pressure control and other cardiovascular disorders.

Acupuncture had the following advantages to current therapies: non-invasiveness, low cost, and the absence of side effects associated with many drugs.

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Heart failure care in the US needs to be improved

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | November 19th, 2009 | by Raquel | no comments

hospital signHeart failure is a condition wherein the heart gets weakened by disease that it can no longer pump blood effectively. Most often, patients with heart failure have other chronic diseases that include atherosclerosis, arrhythmia, kidney failure, and diabetes.

According to a recent research study, more than half a million Medicare recipients in US older than 65 are hospitalized for heart failure every year. Of these patients, 23% are back at the hospital within 30 days of initial discharge. This rate of rehospitalization is much higher than what is normally observed in other developed countries. It is not clear how this figure compares with rate of hospitalizations among Americans with health insurance coverage.

According to lead author Dr. Joseph S. Ross of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

“I was hoping for improvement and was disappointed to find that was not the case. Despite the increased focus on the need to reduce readmissions, about a quarter of patients are back into the hospital within 30 days.”

The results of the study indicate a great need for improving health care.

So what are the possible reasons behind this high rate of hospitalization?

  • According to the report, the current fee system in the US pays doctors for treating and hospitalizing patients but not for preventive strategies and measures.
  • There is a lack of communications between doctors in the hospital and the primary care physicians who help patients manage chronic diseases.

The more specific reasons, however, need to be identified in future studies.

The recommended course of action for hospitals before discharging heart failure patients is that patients should receive written information about the following:

Previous studies however, have shown that this line of communication between hospitals and primary care clinicians do not work effectively. Efforts are being made to step up with electronic health records which hopefully can overcome this problem.

Dr. Ross continues

“Coming back and forth into the hospital isn’t good for patients, and it isn’t good for the healthcare system. This is a tremendous challenge… Patients should use this information to vet hospitals, to look at the quality of care delivered there and ask questions about the care they receive. Hospitals should consider the rehospitalization rate a grade which, from these findings, needs improvement.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

The best and worst US states in heart attack care

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | October 26th, 2009 | by Raquel | no comments

Somebody told me once that it all boils down to the right location, whether it’s real estate, business usa_mapsventure, or vacation. It seems it is the same when it comes to health care. In previous posts for example, I have tackled how geography can influence health, from based on the levels of air and noise pollution as well as UV radiation

A study published in the July issue the journal Circulation lists the best and worst states to be in, in order to survive a heart attack. This is based on the quality of care that hospitals in the states can deliver in terms of the treatment and management of heart attack and heart failure.

Of the best states, New Jersey tops the list, with “the least deaths and fewest hospital readmissions following a heart attack or heart failure.” The top 5 states are listed below:

  • New Jersey
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Washington
  • Oregon

The US national average for heart attack mortality is 16.6% and 11.1% for heart failure. The best performing states have a maximum mortality rate of 10.9 and 6.6% for heart attack and heart failure, respectively.

Most of the states are sort of middle of the road when it comes to heart disease care but some states performed worse than the others. The 5 worst states to be in for patients of heart attack or heart failure are:

  • Oklahoma
  • Arkansas
  • Tennessee
  • Missouri
  • Louisiana

In these states, mortality rates from heart attack were about 24.9% and rates from heart failure were about 19.8%.

Aside from mortality rates, the rankings also took readmission rates into account. In the worst performing hospitals, 1 in 4 heart failure patients and 1 in 5 heart attack patients were readmitted within 30 days of their first admission due to many reasons including:

  • Medication problems
  • Infection
  • poor follow up care
  • Recurrence of the heart attack or failure.

Readmission and complications are preventable and in preventing these, deaths are also prevented.

According to study author Dr. Gregg Fonarow, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UCLA

“Being able to prevent preventable deaths is very important. Preventing early hospitalization again is also very important. The large difference highlights that more could be done.”

The researchers, however, were quick to emphasize that the ratings were general averages and do not necessarily reflect the performance of all hospitals in the said state. The state of Florida, for examples, has hospitals which were ranked among the bets but also has others which were ranked among the worst. A more detailed ranking of individual hospitals clinics according to different therapeutic areas is given by the US News and World Report. The top 4 hospitals are

  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
    Baltimore, MD
  • Mayo Clinic
    Rochester, MN
  • Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Cleveland Clinic
    Cleveland, OH

None of these hospitals are located in the top ranking states.

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Keeping sodium intake down: how difficult can it be?

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | July 14th, 2009 | by Raquel | no comments

salt-and-lightWhy is sticking to a low sodium diet so difficult? Apparently it is difficult mainly because of problems with diet.

The recommended daily intake of sodium for patients with heart failure is 2 g or 2,000 mg. However, many patients take in more than that and only one-third can actually stick to a low sodium diet.

The study looked at 116 heart failure patients, their diet and their sodium intake. The study results showed that the average intake was 2,672 mg per day. This may seem high but looking at the range, the figures are even more shocking. The lowest intake was 522 mg whereas the highest was 9,251 mg per day – more than 4 times the recommended daily rate!

The researchers attribute this high sodium intake to poor diet. This typically consists of foodstuffs with hidden salt content, e.g. fast food meals, bread, pizza, and lunch meat. Furthermore these foods are also high on calories, thus adding insult to injury. The study results clearly indicate that

“Heart failure patients need individualized diet plans that lower sodium and enhance the overall quality of their diet.”

However, keeping sodium intake down is not only recommended for heart failure patients. Everybody has to watch their salt intake for the sake of their cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following:

  • 2,300 mg of salt per day for health people
  • 1,500 mg of salt per day for high risk individuals, e.g. middle aged and older adults, African Americans and those suffering from hypertension.

According to Dr. Carolyn M. Reilly, coauthor and researcher at Emory University in Atlanta

“The patients themselves were shocked to find out they were eating more than 2000 mg of sodium a day…There is so much salt hidden in foods that patients aren’t aware of. While they may have thrown away their salt shakers, they didn’t know that 70 percent of the sodium in the American diet is in the food, not the shaker. Everything processed has sodium in it to give it a longer shelf life. In addition to safety, sodium is also added to foods to enhance texture and mask bitterness. Some of the big culprits we have identified in this population are cured meats such as hot dogs and bacon, and other processed foods like canned soups, salad dressings and condiments.”

The study results also indicated that higher sodium intake was especially common among those who eat high-calorie diet and fast food, males, and those of lower economic status. Lower sodium intake was associated with low-calorie diet, less carbohydrate an fat intake (but not less protein), females, and those earning at least $35,000 a year.

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

The non-medical needs of heart failure patients

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | May 18th, 2009 | by Raquel | no comments

hands-holdingPatients who are terminally ill and their caregivers get the so-called palliative care which focuses on reducing the suffering of the patients and easing the burden off caregivers and family members. This type of care, however, is not provided to less severe (but nonetheless life-threatening) chronically ill patients and their families. However, there is a general feeling that some of their needs – especially non-medical needs – aren’t given the attention they deserve, according to a research study reported at the American Heart Association’s 10th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke. This is especially true in patients with heart failure (and their caregivers), who expressed distress over the following:

not knowing what to expect

being unable to relieve symptoms

a lack of communication with medical staff

Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine conducted in-depth interviews with 33 outpatients with heart failure and 20 caregivers. The interviewees were asked what the following in relation to the situation of having heart failure:

  • What causes them distress?
  • What would they find most helpful?
  • What are the unmet needs with regards to symptom management, psychosocial care and planning?

The results of the interviews indicate that

Uncertainty causes a lot of distress.

Patients and their caregivers want to know more about what to expect about the disease, its management, and prognosis.

Patients also need more help with symptom relief.

Finally, patients and carers expressed their desire for more communication with their health care providers.

According to lead researcher Dr. David Bekelman

“Most teams treating heart failure are medically focused. There is little guidance on the emotional, financial, spiritual and social impact of heart failure. This study helps define a role for palliative care in addressing the needs of heart failure patients and their caregivers.”

It seems that chronically ill patients such as those with heart failure have unmet needs that go beyond just mere medical care. There is a need for psychological and social support for these patients and their caregivers. Previous studies have shown that heart patients are prone to depression that can affect their overall quality of life. Their caregivers are affected as well.

Dr. Bekelman continues:

“There are unmet needs in the management of this disease. People need to know what to expect in the future of the illness and require help in adjusting to the limitations of heart failure by learning what steps they can take to improve the quality of their lives.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Heart over head: cognitive problems in patients with chronic heart failure

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | February 17th, 2009 | by Raquel | no comments

Heart failure and cognitive decline – is there a link? This is the question that researchers from the University of California Davis Medical Center wanted to answer.

It may not be evident but heart health and brain health are closely linked. The UC Davis  study was conducted by comparing 50 heart failure patients with 50 controls (participants without heart failure). The demographics of the two groups (age, gender and estimated intelligence quotient) were very similar. The total of 100 participants were then assessed using 19 neurophysiological tests that asses the following:

  • orientation
  • attention
  • memory
  • executive function
  • motor speed
  • reaction times

The tests have been showed to be effective in measuring specific cognitive functions. The results of the assessments show that heart failure patients performed poorly compared to the control group in the majority of the tests. Other key results are:

The severity of these cognitive deficits in this sample of HF patients was associated with several factors, namely depressed learning and previous heart attacks but not to the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), depression, anxiety, or physical functioning, duration or the classification heart failure according to the New York Heart Association( NYHA) classification system.

Data on the link between heart functioning and brain function are very limited and the effects of chronic heart failure on cognitive functions are not fully understood. This study adds valuable data to this rather “underrecognized and underappreciated” issue. The results have some wide-encompassing clinical implications. According to lead author Dr Mary Jane Sauvé

What it means in clinical practice is that when you give these patients verbal instructions, you also need to provide written materials because of patient difficulties with information requiring attention, learning, and memory functions; that you include the family in the discussion whenever possible; and that patients and families need to have a direct line to call if they are getting into trouble or become confused about the instructions. There is nothing more frustrating than a phone tree, even for people without [cognitive impairment].”

It is a fact that although screening for depression in cardiac patients is highly recommended, screening for cognitive deficits is not routine performed. However, cognitive problems can lead to non-compliance with therapy and medication regimen. Thus, this review paper recommends that

“…future research needs to focus on identifying a simple screening tool that nurses can use to screen for subtle changes in cognition including forgetfulness and delayed recall. Early identification of subtle cognitive changes has the potential to guide healthcare providers to formulate feasible strategies to understand and/or prevent a low cardiac output state before major cognitive impairment becomes evident.”

 

Photo credit: stock xchng

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Why South African heart failure patients are young and female

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | December 9th, 2008 | by Raquel | no comments

Young and female – this is the typical demographic profile of heart failure patients in South Africa. “Heart failure patients in Soweto, South Africa, are more likely to be middle-aged and female compared to patients in Western nations.” according to a recent study.

So why the difference compared to Western countries? According to the study, the contributing factors are probably the following:

  • increased incidence of hypertension
  • heart valve disorders
  • increasing urbanization

Urbanization is especially of significance because increase in heart problems has also been observed in urbanized parts of more affluent countries. This suggests that with economic development and affluence come lifestyle changes in the population – e.g. eating more processed less nutritious food and decreased physical activity – that is unfortunately unhealthy. However, unlike in developed countries, the health care system of developing countries like South Africa is not ready to handle the problems. However, there is more to South Africa’s heart problems that initially thought.

The South African report published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association gives the following figures:

Eighty-eight percent of the new heart failure patients were black Africans.

Their average age was 55, and 57 percent were women.

About 90 percent had at least one cardiovascular risk factor – with hypertension being the most common (60 percent).

Twenty-seven percent of patients had right heart failure (reduced pumping ability in the right heart chambers).

The high percentage of isolated right heart failure – 27% – surprised the authors. Usually right heart failure which occurs as a consequence of left heart failure. The incidence of isolated heart failure in the South Africana population studied is 10 times more than what has been observed in western countries where left heart failure is more prevalent. Right heart failure is associated to damage to the lungs and pulmonary vessels usually seem is smokers.The authors speculate that air pollution – both environmental and occupation – may be a major factor. Pollution, of course, especially traffic-generated fine particle pollution, is another price of urbanization.

Another interesting finding of the study is the fac t that new cases of heart failure involved women who were on the average, 3 years younger than men. Most of these women are of reproductive age, thus indicating “pregnancy-related heart failure, as post-partum cardiomyopathy occurs more frequently in black African women.”

The study authors went on to say that is clearly a need for gender-specific programs for prevention, screening and management of heart failure in South Africa.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

The link between heart failure and bone fractures

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | November 6th, 2008 | by Raquel | no comments

Depression, poor quality of life, and now, increased risk for bone fractures. Is there no end to the problems facing heart failure patients? Unfortunately, a study by Canadian researchers found a link between heart failure and incidence of bone fractures.

“Patients who are newly diagnosed with heart failure in the emergency department are at least four times as likely to suffer serious bone fractures over the next year compared with patients presenting to the emergency department with other CV disorders.”

The analysis was based on hospital data from over 16,000 patients. 2041 of these patients were just newly diagnosed with heart failure. The remaining 14,253 had other cardiovascular conditions. The incidence of any orthopedic bone fracture among heart failure patients was more than 4 times higher (4.6% vs. 1%) than those without heart failure. The figures did not significantly change when corrected for age, sex, and medications. Of all types of fractures, hip fractures are the most common with more than 6% higher risk among heart failure patients. This is especially disturbing because hip fractures are difficult to heal, cause prolonged disability and increase the risk for thrombosis and lung infections.

The mechanism behind the heart failure – bone fracture link is not clear and requires bigger and more in-depth studies. A possible explanation might be the fact that long term heart failure can cause secondary parathyroidism. Parathyroidism is a condition wherein the parathyroid glands are enlarged. The glands are responsible for controlling the breakdown of calcium in the body. Dysfunction of the parathyroid glands can cause bone loss and high levels of blood calcium. Other factors which can further weaken the bones may be poor nutrition and lack of exercise among elderly depressed heart failure patients.

Heart failure is a chronic disease that worsens over time until the heart completes loses the capacity to pump. According to the American Heart Association, “more than 5 million Americans are living with heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.” According to the study, heart failure is also a leading cause of hospitalizations and mortality in Canada. It occurs in 2.2% of the general population and 8.4% in adults older than 75.

The results of the study also highlight a possible link between heart failure and osteoporosis. The incidence of osteoporosis is about 25% in females and 12% in males among adults 50 years old and above.

The study continues to say that

heart failure and osteoporosis also share common risk factors such as older age, female sex, smoking and type-2 diabetes.

However, with the proper preventive measures, such as lifestyle changes and knowing the early signs, heart failure need not be a death sentence.

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

There’s no place like home: home monitoring program for cardiovascular patients

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | July 7th, 2008 | by Raquel | one comments

Is home monitoring by patients with heart disease and/or hypertension a feasible alternative? According to experts and results of recent studies, there’s actually no place like home for monitoring cardiovascular patients.

 

Hypertension patients

In a recent joint scientific statement by the American Heart Association (AHA), American Society of Hypertension (ASH), and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA), experts push for more home monitoring programs of hypertension patients.

“Given the amount of accumulated evidence about the value of home blood-pressure monitoring (HBPM), it is time to make HBPM a part of routine management of hypertensive patients, especially those with diabetes, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, substantial nonadherence, or a substantial white-coat effect.”

according Dr Thomas Pickering, who is a member of the scientific committee who write the statement, as quoted by heartwire.

HBPM is recommended to be a routine part of the management of hypertension, be it known or suspected. It is also recommended for those with the so-called “white-coat hypertension” because routine monitoring may detect “masked hypertension” before it becomes critical.

The committee notes that regular use of home monitoring will improve the quality as lower the cost of health care to the 72 million people with some form of hypertension. It urges the reimbursement of HBPM costs by health insurance.

The use of HBPM has gained popularity in recent years as people’s health literacy improved. According to a recent Gallup poll:

Heart failure patients

According to another study, home monitoring programs of heart failure patients may actually be more beneficial than initially thought, Health Day News reports

110 patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group of 68 patients received the usual follow-up care for heart failure patients. Another group of 42 patients were monitored remotely while they stayed at home. The patients in the remote care group had remote monitoring equipment attached that measured vital signs such as heart rate, pulse and blood pressure. They also measured their weight daily and answered a questionnaire about their general well-being. When any of the remote care patients show abnormal values, a health care professional makes a house visit to make a proper assessment. The remote care program is called the Connected Cardiac Care program and was conducted by the Center for Connected Health.

After 3 months of follow-up, patients in the remote care group had much lower hospital readmission rates (31%) compared to the control group (38%). The remote care group also had lower incidence of heart-failure related admissions and emergency room visits.

In a future resource post, I will go into detail about different home monitoring programs available.

Source:

Pickering TG, Houston-Miller N, Ogedegbe G, et al. Call to action on use and reimbursement for home blood pressure monitoring. Hypertension 2008.

Health Day News, 1 May 2008

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Depression in heart patients: exercise plus psychological therapy work best

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | June 18th, 2008 | by Raquel | one comments

In a previous post, I touched on the beneficial effects of laughter and positive emotions on our heart and vascular system. It is very common however, that heart patients, especially those above 60, suffer from depression, thereby further worsening their underlying heart conditions. However, a recent study conducted by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia may just have found a rehabilitation program that seems to greatly benefit heart patients physically as well as psychologically.

The researchers studied 74 patients who had heart failure and have been diagnosed with depression. The patients were split 4 groups, with each group receiving a different type of home-based rehabilitation program for 3 months, as described below:

  • exercise and psychological counselling
  • psychological counselling only
  • exercise only
  • no interventions

Physical exercise consisted of walking for at least 30 minutes three times a week, with low-to-moderate intensity. Patients involved in exercise had heart rate monitors installed. They were taught how to self-monitor their physical exertion levels, and recognize the point when they have to stop exercise.

The type of psychological counselling used in the study was known as cognitive behavioural therapy. The counselling sessions were conducted one-to-one at the patients’ homes by psychiatric nurse specialists. “These sessions were designed to encourage patients to think positively and ‘reformat’ their beliefs about their illness and activity limitations.”

The results of the study after 3 months show that the group assigned to the exercise plus psychological counselling program performed significantly better in terms of physical recovery and overcoming depression compared to the other group. They also experienced better improvement in quality of life. The group assigned to psychological counselling only also improved in overcoming depressive symptoms but not as well as the first group. As expected, the group which did not have any rehabilitation program performed the worst.

There are several reasons why heart patients are depressed. Disability, loss of productivity, disturbed sleeping patterns, as well as financial worries are just a few.

In another related study by Swedish researchers, fear of death seems to be a major factor that causes heart patients to be depressive.

“Elderly patients with heart failure had a lot of thoughts about death. Higher levels of anxiety/depression were correlated to fear of death. Many expressed death as a natural relief from suffering, others were afraid of pain, loss of independence and dignity.”

It seems that a two-pronged approach to rehabilitation, one that caters to the body as well as to the soul, is the best way to help heart patients get back on their feet again.

“Heart failure patients who suffer from depression may benefit from exercise combined with psychological therapy to improve their physical function, reduce their depressive symptoms and enhance quality of life.”

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

There’s no place like home: home monitoring program for cardiovascular patients

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | June 4th, 2008 | by Raquel | no comments

Is home monitoring by patients with heart disease and/or hypertension a feasible alternative? According to experts and results of recent studies, there’s actually no place like home for monitoring cardiovascular patients.

Hypertension patients

In a recent joint scientific statement by the American Heart Association (AHA), American Society of Hypertension (ASH), and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA), experts push for more home monitoring programs of hypertension patients.

“Given the amount of accumulated evidence about the value of home blood-pressure monitoring (HBPM), it is time to make HBPM a part of routine management of hypertensive patients, especially those with diabetes, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, substantial nonadherence, or a substantial white-coat effect.”

according Dr Thomas Pickering, who is a member of the scientific committee who write the statement, as quoted by heartwire.

HBPM is recommended to be a routine part of the management of hypertension, be it known or suspected. It is also recommended for those with the so-called “white-coat hypertension” because routine monitoring may detect “masked hypertension” before it becomes critical.

The committee notes that regular use of home monitoring will improve the quality as lower the cost of health care to the 72 million people with some form of hypertension. It urges for the reimbursement of HBPM costs by health insurance.

The use of HBPM has gained popularity in recent years as people’s health literacy improved. According to a recent Gallup poll:

Heart failure patients

According to another study, home monitoring programs of heart failure patients may actually be more beneficial than previously thought, Health Day News reports.

110 patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group of 68 patients received the usual follow-up clinic-based care for heart failure patients. Another group of 42 patients were monitored remotely while they stayed at home. The patients in the remote care group had remote monitoring equipment attached that measured vital signs such as heart rate, pulse and blood pressure. They also measured their weight daily and answered a questionnaire about their general well-being. When any of the remote care patients show abnormal values, a health care professional makes a house visit to make a proper assessment. The remote care program is called the Connected Cardiac Care program and was conducted by the Center for Connected Health.

After 3 months of follow-up, patients in the remote care group had much lower hospital readmission rates (31%) compared to the control group (38%). The remote care group also had lower incidence of heart-failure related admissions and emergency room visits.

In a future resource post, I will go into detail about different home monitoring programs available.

Source:

Pickering TG, Houston-Miller N, Ogedegbe G, et al. Call to action on use and reimbursement for home blood pressure monitoring. Hypertension 2008.

Health Day News, 1 May 2008

 

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LAST FIVE POSTS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: ADDICTION

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: ALHEIMER's DISEASE

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: CANCER

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: DEPRESSION

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: DIABETES

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: HEARING LOSS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: HEART and STROKE

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: OBESITY

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: SCHIZOPHRENIA

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: STRESS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: VISION