Caring for the Caregiver

Hospitals and doctors studying quality of life for family caregivers of heart failure patients

Sep 18, 2011, 08:00 ET from The Heart Failure Society of America

BOSTON, Sept. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The 15th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) will include a presentation by Dr. Michael Petty, RN, PhD, on the issues surrounding caregivers of heart failure patients supported with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), entitled "Family Caregivers: Supporting the Support System."

In his presentation, Dr. Petty will discuss the problems faced by the 52 million Americans who provide unpaid care to adult family members and friends with issues that range from post-operative healing to Alzheimer's disease. He points out that on average, these caregivers spend approximately 21 hours per week caring for their loved ones, and the estimated value of that care is $357 billion. Specifically, Petty will focus on those who care for heart failure patients who have been fitted with VADs.

"People are very committed to caring for their loved ones," Dr. Petty, a Cardiothoracic Clinical Nurse Specialist at the University of Minnesota, explained. "Family and other caregivers are part of the backbone of our healthcare system. We are finding more and more that they develop issues as a result of the burden of caring for another person."

Dr. Petty explains that most caregivers report feeling satisfied and optimistic when caring for their loved ones, but studies have shown that many also feel burdened and have emotional effects as a result. Petty explains that these caregivers are a crucial part of the support team once the patient is sent home, helping patients eat, dress, and perform other daily tasks. He recommends home services, respite care, caregiver counseling and additional information as early on as possible for caregivers to help reduce the stress they may feel.

Dr. Petty's presentation is part of a session that will describe the role of extended support options in the care of patients with heart failure and VADs.

For a complete list of annual meeting sessions or for details on attending the conference, call (617) 226-7183 or visit and click on Annual Scientific Meeting. There is no registration fee for accredited journalists. Interview areas will be available on-site in addition to a fully-staffed press room with phone and internet accessibility. You may follow news from the meeting on Twitter #HFSA.

About Heart Failure

Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened after it is injured, most commonly from heart attack or high blood pressure, and gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. Many people are not aware they have heart failure because the symptoms are often mistaken for signs of getting older. Heart failure affects 4.6 to 4.8 million individuals in the United States. Demographic and clinical evidence strongly suggests that the prevalence of heart failure will increase throughout the next decade. Ten to 15 years ago heart failure was considered a "death sentence;" however, recent advances in treatment have shown that early diagnosis and proper care in early stages of the condition are key to slowing, stopping or in some cases reversing progression, improving quality of life, and extending life expectancy. For more information on heart failure, please visit

About the Heart Failure Society of America

The Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) is a nonprofit educational organization, founded in 1994 as the first organized association of heart failure experts. The HFSA provides a forum for all those interested in heart function, heart failure research and patient care. The Society also serves as a resource for governmental agencies (FDA, NIH, NHLBI, CMS). The HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting is designed to highlight recent advances in the development of strategies to address the complex epidemiological, clinical and therapeutic issues of heart failure. Additional information on HFSA can be found at

SOURCE The Heart Failure Society of America