Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information about our service
Speak to one of the teams close to you:
Canterbury/Ashford/Thanet/South Kent Coast
0300 123 1412
Maidstone and Weald, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.
Please note, the service in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley is provided by Virgin Care.
Who we are
The Heart Failure Service (also known as the Cardiac Nursing Service) provides care and support to patients living with certain types of heart failure.
What we do
We follow national guidance in the treatment and management of our patients. We work to improve the holistic care of patients with heart failure, supporting primary care in effectively managing patients diagnosed with heart failure, to improve quality of life, reduce hospital admissions and to improve access to palliative and end of life care, when necessary. Our heart failure specialist nurse works in partnership with GP’s, community district nurses, community matrons, case managers, other specialist nurses and consultants providing clinical advice and support in the community. We support patient management, with a large focus on self-management, and then transfer care back to the GP once the patient is stable.
Our service is available in both east and west Kent offering a mix of telephone, video consultation or face-to-face appointments. Face-to-face appointments may be in a clinic or at the patient’s home, if housebound.
What is heart failure?
Heart failure is a condition where the heart is not able to pump the blood around the body properly. It is a long term condition that can lead to a variety of symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue and fluid retention in the feet, ankles, abdomen or lungs.
There are different types of heart failure and the management of them is different. Some types will be managed by our service while others will be managed by the patient’s doctor.
How do you use this service?
You need to be referred by a GP or healthcare professional to use this service.
Acute chest pain – if you develop sudden chest pain, call 999 immediately especially if the pain:
- spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
- makes your chest feel tight or heavy
- also started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick
- lasts more than 15 minutes.
Acute breathlessness – if you develop sudden breathlessness and struggling to breathe, call 999 immediately.
Cardiac arrest – sometimes the heart changes into an abnormal rhythm that stops it pumping blood around the body. People will become unresponsive and stop breathing. Without emergency help, the person will die. Phone 999 for help and immediately start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
What can I do to help my heart failure?
- Monitor your weight daily, if possible. This should be measured first thing in the morning after going to the toilet and before breakfast. Please keep a record of your weight. If your weight increases by 2kg or 4-5lb in 2-3 days, contact your health care professional for advice.
- You may wish to buy a home blood pressure monitor. Keep a daily record of your blood pressure and heart rate. This will help your health professional manage your condition.
- Check your abdomen, legs, ankles and feet daily for swelling.
- Escalate any new symptoms of shortness of breath, swelling, palpitations or chest pain appropriately.
- Be mindful of fluid intake as directed by your health care professional.
- Stop smoking, maintain a healthy balanced diet. Be mindful of salt and alcohol intake.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be active.
- Reduce stress. Look after your mental health and well-being.
Consider getting vaccinations:
- Ask your GP about the influenza and pneumonia vaccines.
- Do not stop taking any medications without consulting your healthcare professional
- Ensure your repeat prescriptions are collected in a timely manner so you do not run out.