In 2011, former Calgary Stampeder Herman Harrison and Canadian Football Hall of Fame member was rushed to the Foothills Medical Centre. He was having trouble breathing. It turned out he had heart failure—when the heart can’t pump enough blood for the body.
Harrison is among approximately 80,000 other Albertans who suffer from heart failure. It’s the leading cause of hospitalization for people over 65.
Heart Failure Optimization, a pilot project which started in 2010 at the Foothills Medical Centre, has seen a drop in length of hospital stays for heart failure patients. The idea behind the program is that if patients are informed how to manage their condition, once they are discharged, it’s more likely they won’t be re-hospitalized.
This has significant impact on improving access to cardiac care. With busy and overcrowded hospitals, the program helps to maximize hospital resources.
“When patients go home we need to make sure they are prepared,” says Dr. Jonathan Howlett, director of Heart Failure at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. “Heart Failure Optimization does that and we can offer better patient care and a safer transition home.”
While in the hospital, patients are educated about heart failure and are started on a workbook which walks them through medications, symptoms to monitor and helpful nutrition tips. They also receive follow-up care.
The program is now in effect at 11 hospitals in Alberta through the province’s new Strategic Clinical Networks.
Read more about the Heart Failure Optimization program here: