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Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute Opens California's First Dedicated In-patient Unit

Providing New Technology-Intensive, Coordinated Care for Patients With Advanced Heart Failure - Innovative approach to improving quality of life for sickest heart failure patients is geared to decreasing hospital readmission rates

Los Angeles - Aug. 19, 2010 - The Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute has opened an innovative 30-bed in-patient unit dedicated to providing advanced heart failure patients with an intensive, multidisciplinary approach to inpatient care.

Heart failure, which is the number one cause of hospitalization and death in the U.S., is most often managed in a case-by-case, non-coordinated manner by a variety of generalist and specialist physicians. The new Cedars-Sinai unit seeks to improve upon the standard of care by providing, among other innovations, a team approach to patient management, real-time monitoring of heart function, and intensive education of patients and families as to how to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes and avoid repeat hospitalizations.

The first of its kind in California, the Advanced Heart Failure Unit is solely for patients diagnosed with advanced congestive heart failure, or patients waiting for a heart transplant.  Although the unit’s patients are being treated for serious, chronic conditions, they are not in critical condition requiring admission to the Intensive Care Unit.  

“This unit is an exciting development and a great commitment in the fight against the nation’s number-one killer, heart disease,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, Mark Siegel Family Professor and director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.  “Heart failure also is the number one hospital expenditure for Medicare.  We believe that our innovative approach will improve patient outcomes while reducing the long-term cost of high-quality care.”  

Patients receive real-time 24-hour hemodynamic monitoring, measuring heart function, blood flow and circulation via a Swan-Ganz catheter, which was invented by two Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute physicians.

The unit also provides medical transportation services for patients needing admission, cardio-pulmonary exercise testing and post-discharge telephone check-ins during which cardiac nurses get patients’ updates on their progress and answer questions.

Healthcare professionals assigned to the Advanced Heart Failure unit include a team of specialized physicians and nurses as well as a social workers, physical therapists and nutritionists.  Together, the team consults with each patient daily and prescribe necessary lifestyle changes to improve heart health, such as losing weight, exercising and avoiding high-fat and salty foods.  Social workers help patients adjust to post-hospitalization living arrangements and home health care.

“Patients with congestive heart failure have a 50 percent readmission rate within six months, which is a heavy cost both in terms of quality of life and financially,” said Michele Hamilton, MD director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute’s Heart Failure Program.  “A major component of the high readmission rate is that patients have difficulty keeping up with the medical regimen and lifestyle changes after discharge.  We aim to help our patients stay out of the hospital by providing the education and follow-up they need to maintain their heart function.”