A Seamless Approach to Heart Failure Care at WellSpan Health

By Bill Colrus
Monday, May 11, 2020

As heart failure prevalence continues to increase across the U.S., WellSpan Health’s physician-led Heart Failure Program helps patients who face this chronic condition realize a significant improvement in longevity and quality of life.

WellSpan’s comprehensive heart failure team provides advanced care for patients with early or aggressive symptoms of the disease. Programs at four facilities — including WellSpan York Hospital and WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, both of which received high performing ratings from U.S. News & World Report — place prevention and nonsurgical treatment at the center of care for patients with heart failure.

This illustration shows what happens with the heart as a result of heart failure.

Prevention Through Education and Precision

According to the journal Circulation, roughly 6.2 million U.S. adults ages 20 and older lived with heart failure between 2013 and 2016 — a significant increase from the 5.7 million adults who had the disease between 2009 and 2012. Since the mortality rate for heart failure trumps many cancers, the WellSpan team partners with primary care providers to identify patients who may have risk factors or be unaware they are suffering from the early stages of the disease.

Not only does the team focus on education to help patients modify their risk factors, but it also provides episodic and longitudinal follow-up care to prevent the onset of symptomatic heart failure.

“If we’re able to keep all of [their] symptoms at bay, patients can have a dramatically improved quality of life with this condition,” says Adnan Malik, MD, FACC, board-certified heart failure cardiologist at WellSpan.

WellSpan’s heart failure program is staffed by a strong core of nurse practitioners, nurse navigators and dietitians who provide a comprehensive focus on patient education, nutritional guidance, physical activity, self-care and monitoring. Heart failure program staff also receive support from WellSpan VNA Home Care professionals, who visit patients and assist with various treatments, including administering diuretics.

As Michael Vranian, MD, board-certified heart failure cardiologist at WellSpan, explains, most of the team’s heart failure therapy is centered on this combined focus of diet, exercise and diuresis, as well as data that indicates how medications impact patients’ chances of survival.

“We follow the data, which enable us to be much more aggressive in titrating a patient’s medications,” Dr. Vranian says. “We know that with the medications, we will reduce symptoms and, with that, reduce overall hospitalizations.”

“We give patients who were given a heart failure diagnosis a second chance. We can bring them back to functioning better and back to the activities of daily life — all while improving the length of life.”
— Michael Vranian, MD, board-certified heart failure cardiologist at WellSpan

Expert Care for Advanced Heart Failure Cases

In addition to caring for patients on an outpatient basis, the program drives inpatient care at WellSpan’s acute care hospitals, especially in the ICU.

The team provides temporary and durable heart pump implantation, as well as life-saving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) heart and lung support. In fact, WellSpan York Hospital is one of only five programs in Pennsylvania that has received the Gold Level ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support for ECMO therapy.

Should additional treatment options be needed, the heart failure program is backed by interventional specialists in other cardiac disciplines and partners with transplant programs in the region.

“We provide the full gamut with a really experienced team — not just for heart failure, but also in all aspects of heart care,” Dr. Malik says. “We follow these patients throughout their journey with heart failure. We see them when they’re stable, we see them when they’re very sick — it’s about the comprehensiveness of the care we provide across all of these sites for our patients.”

To learn more about how WellSpan Health is advancing heart failure care, visit WellSpan.org/HV.