Heart Failure and Sleep: Four Tips for Caregivers

Did you know that heart failure is closely associated with overall poor quality of life?

And did you know that heart disease affects an estimated 27 million adults right here in the United States?  That’s greater than 8% of our population!  It makes complete sense that researchers are searching every possible link to heart health.

Heart disease is the number one reason for admissions within the VA healthcare system.  And here’s a really scary fact about veterans:  Readmission for heart failure occurs in 20% of all VA patients within 30 days of discharge for those over 65.

The problem is not going away…  In fact, heart failure continues to increase as the US population ages.

It was this fact that prompted the development of the Chronic Heart Failure Quality Enhancement Research Initiative Center (CHF-QERI) in Palo Alto, California.  Their goal is to improve the survival and quality of life for all VA patients with the potential of heart failure.  The CHF maintains their focus on the science of what types of treatments, interventions and implementations are captured by this organization.  A significant number of providers are cooperating within their network to accumulate all the data – what’s working, and what’s not working.

They have 5 goals they examine to improve the overall care and health outcomes from heart failure:

Improving early follow-up and reducing readmissions.

Increasing the use of life-prolonging treatments.

Increasing care that improves quality of life.

Empowering patients and caregivers for self-management; and

Improving appropriateness of heart failure treatments and tests.

CHF-QUERI continues to develop a “Heart Failure Toolkit” as it acquires the latest statistics on what is effective in each of the 5 goals they have set.  It included educational materials for providers, patients and caregivers.

To access the research and materials you can go to http://www.queri.research.va.gov/ where the center focuses on the 10 high-risk and/or highly prevalent diseases or conditions among veterans.

Shhhhh! Sleep Help

We decided to examine and share one area of action that any patient or caregiver can take to lessen heart failure and disease risks.

Studies show that napping 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes will lessen your likelihood of dying of heart disease.

The “Repair and Restoration Theory of Sleep” states the purpose of sleep is to allow your body to rest and revitalize both the mind and the body.  There are 2 types of sleep – “Rapid Eye Movement” (REM), and “Non-Rapid Eye Movement” (NREM).  The NREM sleep is important to the restoration of the body’s physiology, and the REM sleep is essential to mental restoration.

In our sleep deprived on-the-go society, the need for restful sleep is even more important.  So we suggest taking a clue from luxury hotels and set up your luxury bedroom.  It may sound silly at first, however these successful clues will set your mind at ease…  and sleep can follow.

  1. Lie Down in Luxury.  Get a great plush bed.  Or even simpler, try a 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets for a silky feel.
  2. Set the Stage for Sleep.  Dim the lights a half hour before bedtime, turn down the bed, play soothing music and place a piece of dark chocolate on the pillow. Yum!
  3. Go dark.  Close the blinds or window coverings.  They are great if they have a dark lining to cut out the light.  Or, try sleeping with an eye mask.
  4. Cocoon of quiet.  Drown out any background noise with a white-noise machine, a small fan or the quiet sounds of a CD.  Or, give ear plugs a try.

At Men’s Liberty we’re committed to improving the quality of life and healthcare among healthcare providers, patients and caregivers.  Try making your sleep patterns productive and healthy, and your body and mind will thank you for it!