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Blog: Hospice Views

Palliative Care: Controlling CHF Fluid Levels

palliative care controlling chf fluid levels

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the leading cause of hospital admissions nationwide for adults 65 and older. What’s even worse is many of the patients return to the hospital within 30 days of their original stay.

The good news is palliative care manages symptoms to prevent unnecessary readmissions.

What is CHF?

CHF is a chronic condition and it occurs when the heart is not able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. CHF symptoms include swollen legs and feet, shortness of breath, fatigue and a rapid heartbeat.

CHF is a serious illness, and it typically has no cure. However, with proper management and support, many individuals with CHF continue to lead full, active lives.   

Avoiding Hospitalization for CHF 

When it comes to CHF, studies show thatIn the United States, rates of 30-day admission vary widely across hospitals from 10 percent to 50 percent, and it is estimated that up to 75 percent of these early readmissions may be preventable.”

In fact, the researchers find that “Comprehensive discharge planning, including patient and caregiver education, guidance regarding sodium and fluid restriction, collaboration with visiting nurses and planned follow-up, may reduce early readmission rates by as much as 25 percent.

How Palliative Care Keeps CHF Patients at Home 

“The most common problem that our CHF patients have is fluid retention,” says Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care Registered Nurse James Sylvester. “They end up having swelling in their feet and ankles, and can also have fluid in their lungs, making breathing more difficult.”

“Our palliative care team can identify problems and adjust medications to help reduce the excess fluid,” he explains.

“Our goal is to identify the problem early, coordinate with the patient’s physician and adjust medications so the patient doesn't have to go to the hospital. We can also recommend medications and treatments to reduce shortness-of-breath that many CHF patients can experience. We can spot signs of respiratory infection and request antibiotics to treat at home, and prevent hospitalizations for pneumonia.”

Additional Benefits of Palliative Care

In addition to controlling pain and other symptoms, our palliative care team provides emotional and spiritual support for the patient and their family. Our team can assist with finding additional support resources in the community such as respite care, meal delivery, support groups and grief counseling. Our team will also work with the patient and family to educate them about CHF and what to expect over time.

Every patient and family situation is unique. Our team confers with them to define their personal goals of care and ensure that their healthcare wishes are communicated and documented.

The team visits patients in their homes, long-term care facilities and in the hospital. Unlike hospice care, which focuses on terminal illnesses, palliative care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness, supporting the patient as they pursue treatment with their primary physicians.

To schedule a consultation for palliative care for yourself, a patient or family member, please contact us at 1-888-564-3405.

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