Keeping heart failure patients safe and well during Covid-19

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   15th May 2020

New HSE guidance – Patients with heart failure should be cared for in the community during the covid-19 pandemic

Heart Failure patients should be cared for in the community as much as possible during the covid-19 pandemic, and the outpatient service is crucial in this regard, according to new guidelines.

The new guidance for ‘Heart Failure Management during Covid-19 pandemic,’ was developed by the HSE National Clinical Programme for Heart Failure and aims to keep heart failure patients as well as possible and out of hospital.

According to the guidance, “the overriding strategy for the management of patients with heart failure during the Covid-19 pandemic is to keep this cohort well and with minimal need to come into the hospital setting.”

The guidance states that patients with heart failure are at increased risk for hospitalisation in general and are also at increased risk of severe illness if they contract Covid-19.

Therefore, it states that the outpatient chronic heart failure service is “an essential service” in this regard and “every effort should be made by hospital management teams to continue this service through the current crisis, as this is vital to avoiding admission to hospital for this cohort.”

The new guidance aims to keep heart failure patients as well as possible and out of hospital.

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According to the guidance, during the pandemic the best place to care for heart failure patients is in the community with care delivered through phone or video call contact with the patient’s GP and where face to face review is needed, doctors will need to wear Personal Protection Equipment and patients will be asked to wear masks.

It states that stable heart failure patients may also be given extended prescriptions to avoid attending healthcare facilities for routine reviews.

Recent changes to legislation which have has made it easier for patients to access their medicines during the coronavirus crisis will help with this. New rules introduced by the Minister for Health last month means that patients no longer need to get a paper prescription, some prescriptions will be valid for nine instead of six months and repeat prescriptions may be possible without a new script from your doctor.

The Heart Failure guidance also includes recommendations on specific patient cohorts such as new patient referrals, patients who may be deteriorating and the follow up of patients discharged from hospital with heart failure.

" Any person who is living with heart failure and is concerned about any deterioration in their health should contact their doctor or heart failure nurse without delay.”

Norma Caples, Lead Nurse, The National Clinical Programme for Heart Failure , HSE

In an effort to support patients with heart failure living during these difficult times the Irish Heart Foundation has established a number of online and telephone support services.

These include a nurse support line which is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation has also developed a new heart support group on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here

Commenting on the new heart failure guidance from the HSE Norma Caples, Lead Nurse for the National Clinical Programme for Heart Failure HSE, said, “In these unprecedented times it is important to have national guidance on how we can best keep people living with heart failure safe and well. Any person who is living with heart failure and is concerned about any deterioration in their health should contact their doctor or heart failure nurse without delay.”

We are here for you

The Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s new heart support group is on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/

The Irish Heart Foundation runs 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support. For more information, see https://irishheart.ie/get-support/.

The Irish Heart Foundation in conjunction with the HSE National Stroke Programme, has launched a new telephone support service for stroke patients who have recently been discharged from hospital. For more information, see here.

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cardiovascular diease coronavirus Covid-19 heart disease heart failure heart support patient support

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