Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened after it is injured, most commonly from heart attack or high blood pressure, and gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs. Many people are not aware they have heart failure because the symptoms are often mistaken for signs of getting older.

Heart failure affects 4.6 to 4.8 million individuals in the United States. Demographic and clinical evidence strongly suggests that the prevalence of heart failure will increase throughout the next decade. Ten to 15 years ago heart failure was considered a “death sentence;” however, recent advances in treatment have shown that early diagnosis and proper care in early stages of the condition are key to slowing, stopping or in some cases reversing progression, improving quality of life, and extending life expectancy. For more information on heart failure, please visit www.abouthf.org.

The 15th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America will feature a discussion by Laura Coyle, ACNP, on strategies for caring for LVAD patients in an outpatient setting entitled “Long-Term Management: Caring for Patients to Keep Them at Home.”

Coyle’s presentation is part of a session titled “Heart Failure and VADs: Does Extended Support Change the Game?” which will describe the role of extended support options in the care of patients with heart failure and VADs.

Ms. Coyle, VAD coordinator and Nurse Practitioner at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL, will discuss collaboration among specialists, community education, and other tools for patients to transition to long term care at home.

“As the population ages, more people are going to be receiving device therapy,” said Coyle. “We need to focus on what needs to be done to allow these patients to live at home and be treated on an outpatient basis. Among other strategies, the key is a multidisciplinary team approach. Ensuring that the cardiologist is in contact with the family practitioner and other specialists allows for a smoother transition and greater quality of life for the patient.”

Coyle points out that physicians who specialize in areas other than cardiology may not completely understand VAD therapy. She advocates for more education among physicians to ensure they are informed about VADs, which will allow them to better care for patients who have them. Coyle also highlights the role of education in the community in caring for the patient. In addition to physicians, emergency medical personnel, home healthcare workers, and other support personnel need to be informed about VADs and how best to care for patients who have devices as well.

For a complete list of annual meeting sessions or for details on attending the conference, call (617) 226-7183 or visit www.hfsa.org and click on Annual Scientific Meeting. There is no registration fee for accredited journalists. Interview areas will be available on-site in addition to a fully-staffed press room with phone and internet accessibility. You may follow news from the meeting on Twitter #HFSA.