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  1. Paul, Sara DNP, RN, FNP
  2. Hice, Amber RN, PCCN, CMC


Acute heart failure is a major US public health problem, accounting for more than 1 million hospitalizations each year. As part of the health care team, nurses play an important role in the evaluation and management of patients presenting to the emergency department with acute decompensated heart failure. Once acute decompensation is controlled, nurses also play a critical role in preparing patients for hospital discharge and educating patients and caregivers about strategies to improve long-term outcomes and prevent future decompensation and rehospitalization. Nurses' assessment skills and comprehensive knowledge of acute and chronic heart failure are important to optimize patient care and improve outcomes from initial emergency department presentation through discharge and follow-up. This review presents an overview of current heart failure guidelines, with the goal of providing acute care cardiac nurses with information that will allow them to better use their knowledge of heart failure to facilitate diagnosis, management, and education of patients with acute heart failure.