Friday, 02 November 2012 08:48

New classes in Brooks benefit heart failure patients

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For the first time, individuals in the City of Brooks and surrounding area are able to learn more about heart failure and feel better equipped to manage their conditions thanks to a monthly class.

Alberta Health Services, through the Living Healthy program, is presenting the two-hour class once a month. Classes began in September and are set to run until December. They will likely continue in the new year based on the positive feedback received so far and the need in the area.
The objectives of the class are to teach individuals and their family members, about heart failure, the causes, the signs and symptoms and how best the condition can be managed, says Donna Welsh, the cardiac rehab nurse with Living Healthy teaching the class.
She sees a need for the class since statistics show more people will continue to be diagnosed with heart failure.
“Current statistics show 500,000 Canadians live with heart failure and 50,000 are diagnosed annually,” says Welsh. “One in 10 Canadians are effected.”
The costs of heart failure are high due to the fact many sufferers have to be hospitalized.
Officials hope if people with heart failure learn more about their condition and how to manage it, they will avoid heading to emergency rooms.
“We’re trying to give people the skills so they know when to see a physician and so they are out of emergency rooms and hospitals unless they need to be there,” says Lorraine Samis, team lead for the Living Healthy program in Brooks.
So far, those people taking the free class have been referred by nurses in the PCN network. People can be referred by a health-care provider or physician.
Symptoms of heart failure can be broad. Usually fluid backs up into the lungs and linings of the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath or difficulty breathing when laying flat.
There can also be coughing, wheezing, bloating in the abdomen, weight gain, fatigue, confusion, chest pain and heart palpitations.
Welsh says helping individuals learn to manage their conditions can lessen their stress and improve their quality of life.
“The feedback so far has been very positive,” she adds about the class. Most people have said it has been an informative two hours and they appreciate knowing they are not alone in their diagnosis.
A similar class will be offered in Medicine Hat through the Living Well program. Offering these types of classes is all about standardizing the information being given to patients. Through the Alberta Cardiac Access Collaborative, it is hoped there will be a consistent message delivered to patients, whether that message comes from home-care staff, physicians or health-care providers.
For more information about the class contact the Brooks Healthy Living program at 403-793-6659 or if closer to Medicine Hat, phone 403-529-8969.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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