Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body. Acting like a personal pump, the heart is vital for delivering oxygen and nutrients to your body. However, it’s estimated that 4% of the population aged over 45 have heart failure, and an extra 30,000 Australians are diagnosed each year.
At Monash Health, our Early Intervention Systolic Heart Failure (EISHF) program, as part of Monash Heart, supports patients with newly diagnosed left ventricular dysfunction to better manage their condition and to reduce hospital admission rates.
Caroline Bowman, Clinical Nurse Consultant, was a founder of the EISHF clinic in March 2014 which now supports nearly 900 patients, providing both physical and emotional support as patients manage their heart failure symptoms.
“We provide education and counseling at the bedside, at our clinic, over the phone, and even responding to text messages. In return, our team learns a lot about life from our patients and we’re often in awe of human resilience,” says Caroline.
Operating twice per week, the EIHSF clinic provides patients with an opportunity to speak directly with Caroline and a Monash Health cardiologist.
“I would say that we have no typical day in the clinic! We make lots of follow-up calls to patients, which helps provide reassurance and a trusting relationship, as we know that navigating the health system can be a complex task.”
“We work closely with other programs and clinics at Monash Heart, making regular referrals to help our patients with their recovery journey. Heart failure requires a multi-disciplinary approach, as the diagnosis affects many aspects of life, and many of our patients have additional complex medical issues to consider.”
When it comes to matters of the heart, Caroline has a few quick health tips that everybody should keep in mind.
“To maintain good heart health, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That means a healthy diet with a balance of exercise, stopping smoking, and regularly seeing your GP. If you do need to speak with a doctor or nurse, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
“It’s equally important to look after your emotional health too, which means making sure you spend a lot of time laughing!”
This week marks the seven-year anniversary of the establishment of the EISHF program. Seven years later the work Caroline and the team perform daily is essential to heart failure patients, including Peter.
“I cannot speak too highly of the lifeline that Caroline provides between myself and my cardiologist,” says Peter. “Her professionalism, humor, and attention to honest and timely feedback is absolutely first class and has been essential to both my physical and mental rehabilitation under the EISHF program. I feel truly blessed to be part of this program”.
No matter your age, it’s important to understand and know the symptoms of heart failure and remember to act quickly.