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An estimated 5 million people in the United States have heart failure, and more hospital stays are caused by heart failure than by any other condition (American Heart Association, 2007). Therefore, it is vital that all community and home health clinicians be competent regarding heart failure and equipped to educate patients and model preventive behaviors.


The literature is replete with rapidly changing standards and guidelines for measuring and controlling cardiovascular status. However, translating this information to practice within the home and community setting is challenging.


This issue presents several articles of great interest in our efforts to obtain and maintain knowledge of heart failure. One of these articles discusses new medications, the nuances of treatment, and the implications of treatment for the patient at home. This article, "Oral Heart Failure Medications," is a continuing education offering in this issue.


In addition to the latest information on the treatment of patients with heart failure, this issue also includes articles about caregiving for patients with heart failure. "Family Caregiver Support and Hospitalizations of Patients With Heart Failure" highlights the role of the family in caregiving, whereas "CARELINK: Partners in a Caring Model: A Cardiac Management Program for Home Care" describes a unique model of caregiving by nursing students for patients who do not meet the eligibility criteria for home care.


Home and community health clinicians are perfectly suited to educate patients and families so that realistic change can occur. Access to patients in their homes, especially, allows us to learn what has meaning in their lives. By helping them to see that preventive behaviors (e.g., smoking cessation) and treatment adherence can help them live longer and keep or obtain what has meaning to them, clinicians can make significant differences in health outcomes. We can reduce the number of hospitalizations for heart failure by teaching all of our patients, regardless of their diagnoses, how best to care for their cardiovascular health.




American Heart Association. (2007). Web site. Available at Retriedved July 12, 2008. [Context Link]