Educating family members of heart failure (HF) patients about the health benefits of consuming a low-salt diet and providing skills for support and communication can effectively reduce HF patients' sodium consumption, according to an interdisciplinary study led by Emory University cardiovascular nursing researcher Sandra Dunbar, RN, DSN, FAAN, FAHA.
Dunbar will present key findings of this study November 17 at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando.
"Greater efforts are needed to incorporate and optimize family-focused education and support interventions into heart failure care," says Dunbar, Charles Howard Candler professor of nursing at Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. "Although usual care in these facilities is very strong in terms of patient education, family members may not be systematically included. Family members can play an important role in motivating and supporting the person with heart failure."
Heart failure patients and a family member were randomized to receive patient and family education (PFE), or family partnership intervention (FPI) or usual care. The PFE or education group included in-depth education on diet selection and preparation, label reading and selecting low-sodium foods. The family partnership or FPI intervention added knowledge and skills of family support communication, collaboration and empathy using autonomy support concepts.
Heart patients were 64 percent men, average age 56 years, and 58 percent African American with average ventricular ejection fraction of 26.9 with optimally prescribed heart failure medications. Family members were 81 percent female, average age 52 years, with 53 percent being spouses.
Dunbar and team measured dietary salt intake by 24-hour urinary sodium excretion and analyzed a three-day food record with a nutrient software program at baseline, four and eight months:
In addition to Dunbar, study investigators were: Patricia Clark, RN, PhD, Brydine Lewis School of Nursing, Georgia State University; Rebecca Gary, RN, PhD, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University; Nadine Kaslow, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine; Frances McCarty, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University; Carolyn Reilly, RN, PhD, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University; and Andrew Smith, MD, Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Center for Heart Failure Therapy.
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