Many hospitals and insurers have developed disease management (DM)
programs to educate people with
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:
There’s no cure for congestive heart failure -- not yet anyway. But if you or a loved one is among the 5.8 million Americans living with heart failure, even if it’s advanced, you should know that simple self-care measures can effectively help curb fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, and other symptoms.
In addition to improving their quality of life, heart failure patients who practice good self-care are less likely to wind up in the hospital.
“Heart failure is a progressive disease, but the...
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 medications.
Are there DM programs everywhere?
DM programs continue to gain popularity in hospitals and through
large health insurers. However, 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.