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Coaching Hoosier Hearts to Better Health

| Indianapolis—Imagine learning you have a chronic, progressive health condition and must make major lifestyle changes. But now you’re leaving the hospital and don’t know how to begin a new, healthier lifestyle at home, and more importantly, how to sustain one. This is the reality for the estimated 5.8 million Americans living with heart failure. Fortunately for Hoosiers, there is help at Indiana University Health Cardiovascular through its Heart Coach Program.

The Heart Coach Program, launched in June 2010, employs two nurses as heart coaches at IU Health Methodist Hospital and one at IU Health West Hospital. Heart failure patients are identified and referred to the program and their progress is monitored for 30 days, either in person or over the phone. Following the patient is important because heart failure is the leading diagnosis for hospital readmission, in large part because patients can struggle with their treatment regimens.

“People sometimes don’t comprehend that heart failure is a lifelong disease and while it can be managed, it does not go away,” said Dr. Irmina Gradus-Pizlo, cardiologist and director of IU Health Cardiovascular’s Advanced Heart Care Program. “That makes behavior change imperative and heart failure patients must be vigilant about their diet, medications, weight and follow-up care.”

Since the rollout of the program, the heart coaches have worked with nearly 500 heart failure patients and made more than 2,000 contacts or visits, providing motivation, reinforcement and support along the way.

“Everything we do is patient-focused. Not only do we provide patients with the education and skills they need to take a proactive role in their self-care, but we also help our patients determine their goals and motivations so they can take ownership of their new behaviors and be accountable,” said Jane Mobley, heart coach at IU Health Methodist. “Heart failure patients often have many barriers to overcome but we’ve found that one success usually fosters another, giving them the courage and confidence to keep going.”

“Heart failure patients do have some control over this disease and they can make a difference in their own lives,” said Linda Rohyans, heart coach at IU Health Methodist. “We’re the reminder for patients that they haven’t been forgotten just because they’ve left the hospital. Sometimes knowing that someone cares and is wondering how you’re doing can make all the difference.”

Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart has been damaged and is weak. The heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body. The result is often fatigue, weight gain and shortness of breath, making everyday activities challenging.

IU Health Cardiovascular ranked in the top 50 national programs for Heart & Heart Surgery in U.S.News & World Report’s 2010-2011 edition of Best Hospitals.

For interviews, please call Kit Werbe at 317.963.7692.

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About Indiana University Health Named among the “Best Hospitals in America” by U.S. News & World Report for 13 consecutive years, Indiana University Health is dedicated to providing a unified standard of preeminent, patient-centered care. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine – one of the nation’s leading medical schools – gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology.

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