Types of visits to the HFU, St Michael’s Hospital
NEW DIAGNOSTIC CLINIC
The New Diagnostic Clinic is where we assess patients referred to us by their GP (and sometimes other doctors) who suspect their patient has Heart Failure. Our assessment may confirm the diagnosis of Heart Failure, or it may allow us to reassure someone that their heart is normal. From time to time in order to reach a definite answer we may arrange additional tests and reassessment.
Many newly diagnosed patients are enrolled into a structured programme within the Heart Failure Unit which includes initiating therapy, providing information and education, and planned follow-up to assess progress and fine tune treatment.
Scheduled visits form part of the structured programme mentioned above, and are also part of the longer term follow-up of our patients. The nature of Heart Failure means that sometimes patients will “go through a bad patch”; during these times we schedule more frequent assessments to ensure we get you back on track. Many of our patients respond so well to treatment that they have minimal to no symptoms and remain stable; in these cases we extend out the scheduled visits to annual reviews.
TITRATION CLINIC VISITS
Heart Failure has been transformed by modern medical therapy (read our section What is Heart Failure). An important group of medicines that are used can halt the progress of certain underlying heart conditions that cause Heart Failure and often also reverse it. Our titration clinics are focused on “up-titrating” those key medicines; this means adding in the necessary medications in a step-wise fashion and gradually increasing them up to the target doses that are right for you.
UNSCHEDULED & URGENT VISITS
Between your scheduled visits it is possible that things do not stay stable. For example you may notice that your daily weights are beginning to go up indicating fluid retention, or you may in fact find your symptoms have worsened. By contacting us, we can arrange to see you quickly to assess you and provide the necessary advice, treatment, or changes. One key focus here is to do whatever we can to get you well again and avoid the need for a hospital admission whenever possible.
Heart Failure care may require other types of visit besides those to the Heart Failure Unit. These include: blood tests with your GP or local hospital out-patient phlebotomy department; scheduled visits at other departments or centres for necessary scans and tests; day case procedures for your heart, and consultations with other specialists if required.