Frequently asked questions about the congestive heart failure clinic
What is the program like?
The initial phase of the heart failure program consists of four visits. During this time, the staff will get to know you and provide you with all the necessary information and tools you need to best manage your condition. These four visits are usually scheduled one week apart, but can be arranged to fit most schedules. The first visit usually lasts two hours; the rest of the visits typically last one hour. During this time, you will have an opportunity to meet with the various staff.
Each time you come to the center, you will be weighed. Your blood pressure and pulse will be taken while you are lying down, sitting up and standing. You may also take a supervised walk in the hallway to check your response to activity. If you need lab work done, you can have your blood drawn in the center.
Patients are enrolled in our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) program for the first six weeks. The IVR system will call you at prearranged times during the week to help us monitor your status at home. Additionally, through participation, you will master the skills necessary to manage your heart failure between visits.
Patients with end-stage heart failure may be candidates for a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). Our staff is specially trained to manage the care of such patients and your care will be individualized to your medical needs.
What are the benefits of participating in the heart failure clinic?
- Expert review of your case and management of your unique clinical situation with real-time response to your questions and problems.
- Having a health professional as your personal advocate and partner in care.
- Access to unlimited learning opportunities with nurse practitioner expertise available during office visits and via telephone and Internet.
- Personal dietitian and pharmacist consultations.
- Decreased hospitalization and readmission rates.
What can I expect from the heart failure clinic?
- Courteous, honest and professional treatment with respectful and thoughtful consideration of the unique problems that you face in a specialized clinic setting.
- Enhanced understanding of how to work in partnership with your healthcare team to improve your quality of life and healthcare-related outcomes.
- Access to information and services offered through Community Health Network.
- A plan of care and based on your and your family’s individual needs and experts in heart failure to help you manage your condition.
Why do I have to take so many medications and how long do I have to take them?
Depending on the cause of your heart failure, medicines can reduce or eliminate your symptoms, giving you a better quality of life. Often, it takes multiple medicines to achieve this goal. For most people, medicine must be taken indefinitely. Some medications may be stopped or changed depending on how well your body reacts to the medicine.
How do I follow a low-sodium diet?
- Eat fresh vegetables or unsalted canned or frozen vegetables.
- Season with fresh or dried herbs, vegetables or no-salt seasonings.
- Bake, broil, boil, steam, roast or poach foods without salt.
- Make your own sauces, salad dressings, vegetable dishes and desserts when you can.
- Buy low-sodium foods (like fish or salmon) when possible.
- Read food labels to find the amount of sodium PER serving size (many items are packaged for more than one serving).
- Keep track of your sodium intake each day. It may surprise you how fast it adds up.
How much does a clinic visit cost?
Most insurance carriers cover most, if not all, of the cost. For specific questions regarding your insurance plan, please call 317-621-8727.
Do I have to come every week?
The frequency of your visits will be determined by you and your nurse practitioner based on your needs and ability. We will individualize your care to fit your needs.
Will I still see my family doctor or cardiologist?
We provide care in conjunction with your cardiologist and family doctor. We offer extensive teaching on heart failure medications, diet, disease process and coping strategies. We have a dietitian and pharmacist who offer individualized educational needs, as well as a monthly support group to offer emotional support. Together with your other physicians, our goal is to improve or maintain your best quality of life possible while keeping you out of the hospital.