Many hospitals and insurers have developed disease management (DM)
programs to educate people who have
heart failure about their disease. Disease management
includes a broad range of health services, such as home health care, visiting
nurses, and rehabilitation. The goal of DM programs is to offer a combination
of treatment, complication prevention, and education in a variety of
Although it is a relatively new concept, studies and reports suggest
that DM programs offer two main benefits:
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened or stiffened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
DM programs may reduce the overall cost of heart failure
care by reducing the need for hospital stays.
How do DM programs work?
A range of providers and health plans focus on the following three
aspects of heart failure treatment.
Patient education: Teaching people about heart failure and how they can prevent progression
of their condition
Proper monitoring: Educating people on how to notice a flare-up of symptoms or a change in
their symptoms of heart failure
Decision support: Helping people decide when they should make a doctor appointment versus
when to visit an urgent care center
To achieve these goals, heart failure disease management programs
usually provide a wide variety of services. These services can include dietary
consultations, health assessments, medicine information, weight-loss help,
sodium/fluid management, and exercise programs and facilities. One of the main
benefits of disease management is that it can be delivered by case managers and
program coordinators right in your own home.
The main reason for DM programs
DM programs aim to decrease the chance of sudden flare-ups of
symptoms. The most expensive part of heart failure treatment is the treatment
of sudden (acute) flare-ups of symptoms. If an acute flare-up happens, you will
often be hospitalized, your drug regimen will usually be changed, and the
number of times that you see a doctor will increase. Acute flare-ups can often
be prevented by making lifestyle changes and adjusting your medicines.
Are there DM programs everywhere?
DM programs continue to gain popularity in hospitals and through
large health insurers. But they still are not available at every hospital
or through every health plan. If you are interested in taking part in an
organized DM program, ask your doctor or nurses about any programs for which
you might be eligible. Many people with heart failure find these programs to be
very useful and informative.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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