Health Team

Duke clinic helps heart patients manage symptoms

Duke says its new Same-Day Access Heart Failure Clinic is the first of its kind in the country.

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DURHAM, N.C. — A week shy of 99 years old, Emma Watson is hoping to live into her 100s.

That's why she and her daughter, E. Reese, carefully manage her symptoms of congestive heart failure.

Heart failure is a weakness of heart function. The heart is unable to pump all the blood the body needs, leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath and leg swelling.

Those symptoms contribute to emergency department visits and many overnight stays for the 5.8 million Americans living with congestive heart failure.

A new type of urgent care clinic at Duke University Hospital is attempting to help patients before they call 911. Duke says its new Same-Day Access Heart Failure Clinic is the first of its kind in the country.

“That's what we're really trying to do is catch these signs and symptoms before it requires an emergency department visit,” said Dr. Zubin Eapen, a Duke cardiologist and the clinic's medical director.

Reese brings her mother into the center about once every two weeks or as needed.

“It's less anxiety for her. The continuity of care is great. The staff knows her,” Reese said.

Nurse practitioner Karol Harshaw-Ellis can identify the most pressing needs of the patient and offer medications that are unavailable for outpatients.

The clinic is achieving its purpose.

“We have dropped our readmission rates better than the average for peer institutions and seen a nice decrease over last year of admission rates,” Eapen said.

The treatment is adding up to a better quality of life for Watson.

“It makes me feel good because, No. 1, she gets the treatment that she needs,” Reese said.


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