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Tips for heart failure caregivers from an award-winning program

Date: 05.03.2011
Contact: Jennifer Farquhar Phone: (330) 375-4930

Contact: Jennifer Farquhar, Phone: (330) 375-4930, Email:

AKRON, Ohio, May 3, 2011 – Heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood to meet the needs of the body’s other organs, is one of the conditions that requires home health care most frequently. There are more than 5.7 million Americans living with the condition, and most of them are over 65.

“Heart failure requires dedicated management by the patient and the family if the individual is older or receiving care at home,” said Alicia Woo-Clark, RN, MSN, CNS-BC, of the Summa Heart Failure Program. “Being a caregiver who provides encouragement, coordination and resources can be a trying task.”

Woo-Clark offers these tips for people who may be caring for someone with heart failure:

  1. Ask questions. Learn as much as you can during physician and clinic appointments, and research the condition through reputable sources such as the American Heart Association. Bring your questions to the next appointment.
  2. Write everything down. Keeping a notebook of instructions and progress can help you and the patient better manage the condition. Heart failure requires a commitment to using medication properly and paying close attention to diet, activity level and weight.
  3. Make healthy changes yourself. If you are living with someone with heart failure, a family approach can help them improve their quality of life. Look at ways your whole family can eat healthier, limit junk food in the house and get recommended levels of physical activity.
  4. Look for additional support. Support Groups such as Mended Hearts offers resources for survivors and individuals living with cardiovascular disease. There are also online communities where patients and caregivers can share information and encourage each other.
  5. Take time for yourself. Caring for anyone with a chronic illness can be tiring. Try to share tasks with others and keep time reserved for rest and rejuvenation.

Summa Akron City and St. Thomas Hospitals were recently awarded the Get With The Guidelines® Bronze Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association for their treatment of heart failure patients. For more information on the program, visit or call 866-726-9689.

About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet® status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit or find us on Facebook and Twitter at