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 settings.
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.
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.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
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