By Stephanie Lucero, CBS 11 News


GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – A report in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association shows that many people with heart failure have little knowledge of their condition or how to manage it.  Baylor Medical Center in Garland says it is already doing something to change that.

Nurse practitioners make house visits, evaluate the health of patients with congestive heart failure and teach them how to manage their own health issues.

“I’m teaching him to be self-taught” says Elaine Kim, Transition Care Nurse Practitioner for Baylor.  With computer and stethoscope in hand, Kim visited 70-year-old Ralph Furushima at his Garland home today.

“With Elaine here, she sort of performs that stop gap between the doctor, the hospital and myself” says Furishima, who first noticed symptoms more than 20 years ago when he worked as a Test Engineer at the Comanche Peak Power Plant in Glenrose.  “That’s when they said I had four blockages.  Three of them were 100% (blocked) and one of them was 90% (blocked) and that’s when they told me I was a walking dead man” says Furushima.

At the age of 59 Furushima developed Congestive Heart Failure and was put on Baylor Medical Center’s transplant list.   Furushima says his heart recovered, he didn’t have the transplant but he still suffers from dizziness and has had several fainting spells.

“Why didn’t you call me?” says Kim, who comes to Furushima’s house every other week.  While there Kim checks her patient’s blood pressure, pulse and heartbeat, she evaluates their food diary and makes sure they understand the medications they’re taking.  Furushima is taking 19 different prescription medications.

For more information of the Baylor Medical Center at Garland Congestive Heart Failure Program, call (972) 485-2323.

The JAMA study, Low Health Literacy Associated With Higher Rate of Death Among Heart Failure Patients, was published today and states that “as many as one in three Medicare enrollees have low health literacy.  Heart failure is a common and complex chronic disease with a high risk of illness and death.”