5.8 million People in the U.S. alone are affected by heart failure. It also remains responsible for virtually 1 million hospitalizations each year, most resulting from a build-up of body fluid in the lungs and other organs caused by heart's inability to pump effectively. The disease needs to be closely tracked in order to avoid such hospitalizations, and home-monitoring interventions may be especially useful, UCLA researchers say.
In their new paper, the UCLA authors discuss the importance of heart failure disease-management and early identification, as well as the treatment of body-fluid congestion, using a number of home-monitoring strategies, including self-care, such as daily weighing and medication management; phone calls from a nurse or automated response system; home health visits; and telemedicine and remote monitoring with implantable and external devices to track vital information.
The field of heart failure home-monitoring is fairly new. Further study will help assess optimal approaches, such as identifying which patients may benefit the most from such monitoring, and will determine which health data — blood pressure or shortness of breath, for example — may be the best to monitor. Promising new technologies, including devices to track heart-ventricle and pulmonary artery pressures, which are closely related to congestion development and clinical outcomes, may be particularly promising.
The authors suggest that the best approach is most likely multi-pronged, including monitoring along with patient follow-up and feedback.