Heart failure

Heart failure means that the heart is not pumping blood around properly, and so there is a build-up of fluid, which moves into the lungs and can lead to breathlessness. Sometimes it can be caused by high blood pressure, or by the arteries getting clogged up with fatty substances, or the heart muscle or valves can become less effective. There is not really a cure, but heart failure can be managed for many years using drugs. In time, technology may be able to do more for the actual heart, but for the moment, it can help with the management of the condition.

Flo text messaging can remind people to take their tablets, or can ask for blood pressure or weight readings to be sent to the doctor by text message. This means that your doctor or nurse can monitor your blood pressure without you needing to visit the surgery so often. As a result of the blood pressure readings and weight monitoring, the medication you are prescribed may be altered, so this is a really important way of managing your heart failure.

Although at first, you might expect follow-up consultations to be face to face, once you are settled, it may be that a Skype video consultation would be suitable, particularly if you have to travel a long distance to be seen. There is a video below of a nurse reviewing a patient with diabetes using Skype.

Florence (Flo), can help with different aspects of lifestyle habits by addressing general activity, weight, smoking cessation, healthy eating, reduced alcohol consumption, and control of blood pressure. Flo can also remind patients to take their medication.

The NHS: Home website explains how heart failure develops, and its treatment. Often changes to your lifestyle can help improve your quality of life. Other websites such as NHS: LiveWell can help with diet, smoking cessation, exercise, and alcohol reduction. Apps can also help, by being downloaded to a smartphone.You can have a look at these apps in the ‘Apps for managing heart failure’ section below.