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Program At WakeMed Alerts Patients To Dangers Of Heart Failure

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A program at


alerts patients to the possible dangers associated with heart failure.

Henry Liles is no stranger to hospitals. Diagnosed with heart failure in 1985, he has been in and out of heart centers.

Heart failure happens when the heart weakens, usually due to clogged arteries, high blood pressure or other problems.

For patients learning to manage their disease, help is just a phone call away. WakeMed's Heart Failure program is a team of nurses, nutritionists and a chaplain who help patients free of charge.

Marian Uy calls patients and checks to see if they are taking their medications, keeping their sodium intake to less than two grams a day and weighing themselves. A two- to three-pound weight gain could signal that fluid is collecting in the heart. If there is a problem, Uy gets in touch with the patient's doctor.

"We're not here to replace physicians in any way," she said.

"It's getting the patient involved in their care," cardiologist Dr. Brian Go said.

On average, heart failure patients in the United States are admitted to the hospital four times a year. Since WakeMed started its program in 1999, the number of patients re-admitted has dropped to one-and-a-half a year.

Liles has not had any hospital stays for heart failure in over a year. He looks forward to his weekly chats.

"It makes me feel good. I know there's someone I can count on," he said.

Other hospitals in the Triangle have similar programs. Most patients are enrolled for a year, unless they need extra help.