Advice & Guidance

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Chronic Heart Failure

If your parent has left sided heart failure, and you are helping to organise their health care, then this checklist summarises some of the issues you might want to discuss with them.

Heart failure is more common amongst older people but with early treatment, most of those affected can still enjoy a good quality of life. There are many causes of heart failure - in older people, it usually relates to problems with the left heart ventricle.

This checklist is deigned to help you plan care, it is not a substitute for medical advice - always seek professional help. Remember, healthcare professionals will not share information about a patient unless they have been given permission to do so.

The Carents Room Left Heart Failure Checklist

The type of medicine prescribed depends on many factors, especially the cause and nature of the heart failure.

The NHS information site has an excellent guide to heart failure treatment.

The British Heart Foundation also has a good overview of medication for heart problems.

It is important to appreciate that medicines which treat chronic heart failure can cause significant side effects, including dehydration, low blood pressure, and even kidney problems.

For this reason, if there are any changes to your parent’s heart failure medicines, then they should be reviewed by a health care professional within 2 weeks.

People with heart failure are usually reviewed at least every 6 months (more frequently if medicines are altered – see above) to ensure that the medicines are working effectively and there are no problems or side effects.

A review usually explores:
a) whether there has been any deterioration,
b) whether the medications should be changed,
c) if any other procedures or interventions should be considered,
d) whether referral to another member of the multidisciplinary team is needed

These programmes can help to prevent heart failure from worsening, reduce the risk of future heart problems and improve quality of life.

They include help and support with taking exercise, understanding the condition and lifestyle advice.

If your parent is well enough to attend, and their chronic heart failure is stable, a suitable exercise-based programme of cardiac rehabilitation can be arranged.

This British Heart Foundation booklet will help you understand more about cardiac rehabilitation programmes.

People diagnosed with chronic heart failure can benefit from a personal care plan which outlines

a) plans for managing the problem, including arrangements for follow-up, rehabilitation and any social care
b) symptoms to look out for in case of deterioration
c) how to access specialist care if it is needed in future
d) how to find more information about heart failure

People with heart failure should be offered:
a) Annual flu vaccine (new injection every year usually autumn)
b) Pneumococcal vaccine (once only injection at any time of year)

What Our Carents say

Dads feet were so swollen that his shoes and socks were really uncomfortable - the podiatrist told us where to get some better fitting footwear

Mum's nurse weighed her regularly so we could tell early on if she was getting worse and retaining more fluid

Dad found extra pillows helped to prop him up so he was less breathless during the night

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