A website for heart failure patients

This story profiles the Centre’s patient-focused website: Tedrogersheartfunction.ca.

The number of Canadians living with chronic heart failure is steadily increasing. It is also a condition that is not well understood by the public, as it’s not talked enough about outside the walls of a clinic or a conference for cardiologists.

In heart failure, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the demands of the body. Upon diagnosis, patients and their loved ones often receive a bevy of information on their heart function, what medications they must take, and what steps they must make to their lifestyle to manage this new reality.

Such information can flow from an assortment of health-care professionals including, nurses, physicians, dieticians, pharmacists, and physiotherapists. On top of such one-on-one counselling, written pamphlets are often distributed to highlight key points of learning – but such publications may fail to provide a comprehensive overview of heart failure.

And that is precisely what is needed, because the more a patient knows, the better his or her outcome.

Expert advice online

Until now there was a clear need for an online resource that provides an up-to-date review of heart failure, written by experts in the field, addressing a range of topics. The Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research has designed a comprehensive patient education website to meet this need, a project I managed along with Dr. Peter Mitoff (who now directs the heart function clinic at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto.)

This new resource provides patients and families access to essential information to learn what they can do on a daily basis to improve how they feel and prevent complications that can lead to hospitalization. Intimately understanding the causes of heart failure, treatment options, importance of dietary changes such as sodium restriction, and the benefits of a regular exercise program, are of vast importance for heart failure patients to optimally manage their condition. We’ve even mapped a patient tools section that features a daily weight monitoring log and instruction on how to self-monitor the signs and symptoms of heart failure.

If you are one of the many Canadians living with heart failure we encourage you to check out the site. It is our hope that it will be an invaluable support for both patients and loved ones in being able to live better with heart failure.

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