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Educating About Symptoms

Patients should be educated about HF symptoms to the point where they can distinguish expected symptoms with those that signify a worsening condition [1]. The more in-depth knowledge a patient has about symptoms and their root causes, the better they will be able to deal with them, and communicate them to their health care provider. For example, a major goal of patient education is to get the patient to understand the role that fluid retention plays in worsening symptoms.  If patients learn to understand this characteristic of their illness, and learn how to deal with it properly, many unnecessary hospitalizations can be avoided [1]. Bennett et al. (1998) [3] did a study and showed that out of 585 admissions for HF patients, 346 were due to excessive sodium retention.

Monitoring fluid retention is as simple as weighing yourself regularly and notifying your doctor if your weight increases beyond a pre-determined point. Usually the extra fluid can be removed with an alteration in diuretic dose.

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1. Grady KL, Dracup K, Kennedy G, Moser DK, Piano M, Stevenson LW, Young JB. Team Management of Patients With Heart Failure. Circulation. 2000;102:2443-2456.

3. Bennet SJ, Huster GA, Baker SL, et al. Characterization of the precipitants of hospitalization for heart failyre decompensation. Am J Crit Care. 1998;7:168-174.

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