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Med center devoted to congestive heart failure patients to open in Phoenix

(AP Photo)
LISTEN: Med center devoted to congestive heart failure patients to open in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Phoenix-area residents with congestive heart failure now have a medical center dedicated to them.

The Institute for Congestive Heart Failure opens Sept. 21 at Abrazo Heart Hospital near 18th Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix.

“Before [E.R. personnel] call the hospital to admit the patient, they’re going to call here,” Dr. Kris Vijay said.

“We channel them here directly – and then we quickly turn them around,” the facility director said.

Care at the institute will cover everything from prevention and early detection to a variety of treatment options – such as mini-dialysis machines, tiny heart monitors, and even pacemakers and other devices.

The goal, Vijay said, was to keep heart-failure patients from returning to the hospital again and again.

“One in three are getting hospitalized very quickly – twenty percent, on average,” he said. “Very high readmissions – thereby increased cost.”

Tammy Querrey, an acute-care nurse practitioner and director of Abrazo’s Cardivascular Centers of Excellence, said another advantage of the stand-alone center was no waiting.

“They don’t have to wait in long lines in an emergency department to get triaged,” she said. “I think waiting is half the battle for patients.”

The other half of the battle is the right treatment and follow-ups.

Registered nurse Patrick Smith is a nurse navigator who will be working at the center full time. He said patients appreciate having guidance for what’s a complex condition.

“I do my follow-up call three days later asking them how they’re doing and then not only that but I make a second call to them,” he said.

“[Patients are] overwhelmed that someone will actually sit down and take the time to call them.”

Smith said the center also offers a good way for specialists to coordinate care more easily.

If a patient needs a medication, for example, “I can talk to Dr. Vijay directly, or to Tammy directly, if I need a prescription.”

The center is one of six specialty cardiac and vascular institutes established by Abrazo to address complex heart and cardiovascular conditions.

Almost 6 million Americans live with heart failure. This does not mean the heart has stopped working — it means the heart muscle has been weakened, and cannot pump enough blood through the body.

The American Heart Association said the condition was caused by a buildup of fluids in various parts of the body.

Among the factors that contribute to heart failure are coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and chronic kidney diseases.

In addition, conditions such as cancer, treatment with some cancer medications and a few other toxic triggers can directly affect the heart muscle, leading to congestive heart failure.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States, according to the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control reports more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease each year, which is one in every four deaths.

Those interested in the latest advancements in cardiovascular care, along with tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle, can attend a free event set up by Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital and other hospitals in the Valley at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort’s Highland Center on Sept. 15. It begins at 6 p.m. and participants who show up early can get free health screenings.

Seating is limited. To register, click here or call 844-563-6109.

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