London: A novel e-health tool in the form of a pre-programmed tablet can help heart failure patients to manage their disease including drug dosages, say researchers.
The tool called OPTILOGG provides heart failure education, helps patients monitor their weight and indicates when they should contact the clinic, according to a research presented at EuroHeartCare 2017 held at in Jonkoping, Sweden.
Heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart does not pump blood around the body as well as it should.
Not enough blood gets to the body, causing fatigue. Blood backs up waiting to enter the heart, leading to fluid accumulation in the legs and abdomen and fluid in the lungs (congestion).
Patients with heart failure are prescribed diuretics which act on the kidneys to produce more urine, thereby reducing fluid retention and congestion.
Patients are advised to monitor their weight, as a rapid loss could be a sign that the diuretic dose is too high while a sudden gain could indicate fluid retention.
OPTILOGG is a pre-programmed tablet attached to a weighing scale that provides heart failure education, registers body weight and symptoms, and titrates diuretics.
If the tool detects heart failure deterioration, the patient is instructed to increase the dose of diuretics.
If weight gain is above a pre-determined range patients should contact the heart failure clinic.
Patients can use OPTILOGG as required without pushing any buttons and it takes less than 30 seconds a day, the researchers said.
"Approximately 60 per cent of patients with heart failure receive treatment and follow up in primary care," said lead author Maria Liljeroos from Malarsjukhuset Hospital, Eskilstuna, Sweden.
"Providing education to increase self-care is often a challenge in primary care due to lack of experience about heart failure and time," Liljeroos said.
The study included 32 patients from four primary care heart failure clinics. Participants were 65 years old on average and 31 per cent were female.
The researchers found that 94 per cent of patients used OPTILOGG as intended. Nurses reported that the introduction of the tool did not increase their workload.
"Patients' self-care behaviours improved by 10.5 points or 37 per cent when they used OPTILOGG. The nurses said patients felt safer and were more committed to taking better care of themselves when using the tool. We also found that it did not create more work for nurses," Liljeroos said.
"Our study shows that introducing OPTILOGG into primary care is feasible and has the potential to help patients with heart failure to manage their condition," she said.