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The best way to deliver information about congestive heart failure (CHF) management is to talk in bullets, says Glynis J. Laing, PhD, RN, CNAA, disease manager for heart failure at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
"I skip the elaborate explanations about the circulatory system," she notes. "I tell patients that their hearts simply aren't pumping right, and then I give them the four main components of CHF management."
The components are as follows:
• Medication compliance. "I simply tell patients they must take their medication every day just the way the doctor told them to take it."
• Low-salt diet. "We don't get really nervous about salt since the patients are on diuretics. I don't expect them to count milligrams. I just tell them to put the salt shaker away and use frozen or fresh foods more often than canned or boxed foods."
• Exercise as tolerated. "If patients can walk, I tell them to start walking around their house. Once they feel comfortable walking around the house, I tell them to start walking around the yard, then eventually around the block."
• Daily weights. "I skip weight ranges," she says. "I tell them if your weight is 167, call your doctor. They simply could not grasp the concept of a weight range."