Check Your Health: Follow up care after heart surgery

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Check Your Health

(KUTV) Recovering from heart surgery can be a difficult and sometimes lengthy process. This is why quality follow up care is so important. The most important factor when looking at quality heart care is patient outcomes.

“We really want to decrease our readmission rate and so we put together a program for our CV (cardiovascular) surgery patients over the past couple of years where we’ve really focused on preventing them from coming back,” said Jane Fox, regional nursing director for cardiovascular services at Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital.

One reason a heart patient may return to the hospital is due to something called fluid overload. Fluid overload sends patients into atrial fibrillation which is a rapid heart rate. To avoid this, doctors make sure patients are on appropriate medication and that fluid levels are where they should be prior to being discharged.

“We also have a cardiac rehab nurse who will do an assessment on these patients within seven days,” says Fox.

This assessment detects when something is off and treats patients right away. By catching things early, they are able to prevent patients from having to be readmitted.

Cardiac rehabilitation also helps patients transition from surgery back into their regular lives. Most of these patients come in three times a week and are then sent home with a home program.

Because of their patient outcomes, Utah Valley Hospital was recently named to Truven Health’s Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospitals. They are the only hospital in Utah to receive this award. The selection was based on low mortality rates, low readmission rates, low cost, and short length of stay. Utah Valley says receiving the award is satisfying because it shows their program is working.

“We know that surgery is really hard. It’s not a fun thing to go through, but it’s really important to us that we do follow up care. That follow up care makes a difference in better outcomes for these patients,” says Fox.

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