Heart Failure Clinic Focuses on Patient Health

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a serious condition, but it can be managed and controlled  and the risk of hospitalization reduced —especially if a CHF patient falls under the watchful eye of a special NorthBay Health program.

The program oversees NorthBay’s CHF patients through a remote, digitally based monitoring system. A mobile application, placed on a patient’s smart phone, is Bluetooth-connected to a digital scale and blood pressure cuff. Each morning, the patient opens the app on their phone, steps on the scale and takes their blood pressure. The data is collected and transmitted back to NorthBay’s Heart Failure Clinic where caregivers can immediately reach out to the patient if changes in their care plan are spotted.

The program was initially launched in 2019, and in the years since NorthBay’s Heart Failure Clinic patients have not only reduced their risk of hospitalization, but many have seen their symptoms greatly reduced, according to Milind Dhond, M.D., medical director of cardiovascular services at NorthBay.

CHF symptoms include swelling of the legs, ankles and feet; shortness of breath; fatigue; a rapid or irregular heartbeat; reduced ability to exercise; persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged mucus; swelling of the belly area; very rapid weight gain from fluid buildup; nausea and lack of appetite.

“The current trend for re-hospitalization of our heart failure patients remains lower than the national average.”
Milind Dhond, M.D., Medical Director of cardiovascular services at NorthBay

CHF occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. When this happens, blood often backs up and fluid can build up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath. Certain heart conditions, such as narrowed arteries in the heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure gradually leave the heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump blood properly.

Proper treatment can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and may help some people live longer. Lifestyle changes —  such as losing weight, exercising, reducing salt (sodium) in the diet and managing stress — can also improve quality of life.

Knowing that they will be stepping on a scale and reporting the results has been a big motivator for many patients and is a daily reminder to be on top of their health care, Dr. Dhond added. “As cardiologists, we appreciate being able to watch our patients more closely and to see trends that can help the patient make changes before they end up in the hospital again.”

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