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Heart Failure Service shares valuable advice

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Heart Awareness event 2016

More than 40 heart failure patients in Nuneaton were treated to a free education workshop courtesy of a joint initiative between NHS Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust.

The two NHS organisations put on the learning for patients that have suffered from a cardiac episode.  The session led by Heart Failure Specialist Nurse, Emma West-Eggar from George Eliot Hospital looked to help patients who have had a heart failure diagnosis to assist with the ongoing management of their condition.

The recently launched heart failure service was introduced after it was found that there was only one other service in Warwickshire.  The CCG has commissioned the service based on the needs of the local population that supports both patients and their carers.

Heart failure happens when the heart fails to pump enough blood round the body at the right pressure.  For many patients a diagnosis can be a frightening thing but Emma and the cardiac team at the George Eliot Hospital are keen to ensure that with the right medication and exercise, patients can lead relatively normal lives.

Emma joined the George Eliot Team in 2015 and cares for patients and their family or carers who have been diagnosed with Heart Failure. Clinical staff and GP's can also request information from this new service based at the George Eliot Hospital.

Emma said: “A diagnosis of heart failure doesn’t mean that the heart is about to stop doing its job.  It simply needs support to do its job, usually in the form of medication.  Many patients think that once they have a heart failure diagnosis that life simply stops, and my team and I want to show that this is not the case.  While there are some restrictions we want to explain that with care and management they can still do many of the things that they could do before.

Heart Failure Nurse, Emma West Eggar talked to patients and their carers about the risks of heart failure, treatments available, how to cope with breathlessness and her own top tips to manage Heart failure related illnesses. Support specialists for heart conditions were also available at the event to talk to participants and Emma shared essential dietary and exercise advice.

Patient Bev Soanes has attended other Heart Failure advice workshops and exercise programmes organised by the Heart Failure service. She has found the advice received has made an important difference to her life living with the risks of heart failure and wanted to thank Emma and the organisers.

Bev said: “My partner and I attended the Heart Failure Education Day last week and still learnt new advice and I also met others with my condition. I think it is very helpful and useful to have these meetings and informative education days. They are very friendly and informal so you feel relaxed and comfortable enough to be able to ask questions if you need to.

“I feel that Emma and the Education and Exercise programmes have helped me, more than anything, to come to terms with and deal with my heart failure. I feel reassured that if I have any problems I can call Emma for advice anytime.”

Dr Deryth Stevens, GP and Chair of NHS Warwickshire North CCG said: “One of our aims as a CCG is to commission services that help and support the local population.  Before we commissioned this service, there was only one other similar service in Rugby, which could prove difficult for some to get to.  We are pleased with the excellent response to this session and look forward to supporting many more in the future.”

George Eliot Hospital General Manager, Kay Farmer said: “I am very proud of our heart failure service. We are getting some fantastic feedback from patients and it is making a real difference to lives.”

Emma advises any patients that have experienced heart failure to contact their GP if they experience shortness of breath, swelling of feet and legs, chronic lack of energy, swollen or tender abdomen with loss of appetite, cough with frothy sputum, increased urination at night or confusion and/or impaired memory.

Find out more about Emma and view a short video about her role here:-

Additional Information for Editors:

Emma provides the following top tips to help prevent heart failure:-

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and two portions of oily fish per week. 
  • Exercise for 30 mins five times a week at a moderate intensity. 

 

For those that have been diagnosed with a heart problem,

  • Ensure you have a yearly flu jab and once only pneumonia jab to protect your heart. 
  • Consider stopping smoking
  • Limit your alcohol intake to 2-3 units per day with at least 2 alcohol free days.

 

For those that have experienced heart failure she also recommends that patients

  • Weigh yourself daily and if you notice an increase in weight by 3-4 1bs (2kg) in 3-4 days contact your Heart Failure Nurse or GP. 
  • Unless directed otherwise limit your fluid intake to 2 litres a day or 7-8 mugs of fluid. 
  • Ensure you take your medications as prescribed and never run out of your tablets. 
  • If you notice any changes in symptoms contact you Heart Failure Nurse or GP. 
  • Please ensure you bring your Heart Failure Passport to every appointment.  

 

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