New Clinical Guidelines and Medical Staff Expertise Make Care at Home the Better Option

Falls Church, VA (Dec 14, 2020) – Each year, more Americans die from heart disease than any other condition, including cancer. Heart disease is also a leading cause for hospitalization: Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) alone account for more than 1 million inpatient admissions annually.

Yet many of those hospital stays could have been prevented—and many of those patients could have lived longer and better lives—through palliative/advanced illness and hospice care delivered directly in the home. 

Unfortunately, only 5 percent of CHF patients are currently referred to palliative or hospice care following hospital discharge, despite the quality of life difference from the physical comfort and emotional solace such care can provide.

Now, Capital Caring Health (CCH), one of country’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of advanced illness, home and hospice care, and a founding member of the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI)—an association of 70 leading not-for-profit hospice and palliative care providers nationwide—are working to change those statistics. Through a new national initiative, CCH and other NPHI members dedicated to improving cardiac care will develop clinical protocols and patient and family education resources to help professionals and consumers alike make informed decisions about advanced and end-of-life care.

The initiative couldn’t be more timely.

“The guidelines are a priority given the impact of COVID-19 on advanced cardiac care patients,” says Cameron Muir, M.D., FAAHPM, Chief Innovation Officer for both CCH and NPHI. “While a vaccine will help, heart disease is expected to remain the #1 cause of death in the United States and to continue to have a disproportionate toll on many racial and ethnic groups that have higher rates of heart disease and associated risk factors.”

Statistics bear him out:

  • Prevalence: More Americans die each year from heart disease than any other condition, including cancer—it is responsible for one out of every four deaths. Due to increases in obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol—and growing numbers of older adults—the incidence of cardiovascular disease continues to rise.
  • Health disparities: Although heart disease affects all Americans across the board, African Americans and other ethnic groups may be diagnosed at a later stage, often the result of poor or delayed access to care. As a result, they suffer from more advanced and complicated conditions, leading to much worse outcomes. Complicating matters, COVID-19 is disproportionately leading to higher mortality rates among these populations in general.
  • COVID-19 risk: Heart disease places patients at greater risk of dying from COVID-19. In fact, cardiovascular complications contribute to roughly 40 percent of all coronavirus-related deaths. Conversely, many people with advanced heart disease are delaying hospital care out of fear of catching the virus, leading to later interventions when conditions have deteriorated.

“Preventing cardiac events and the related intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, mechanical ventilation, and mortality has clinical, emotional, and financial implications for patients and our healthcare system—particularly as hospitals face resource shortages due to COVID-19,” said Tom Koutsoumpas, president and CEO of Capital Caring Health (CCH) and the National Partnership of Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI). “Improved awareness of community resources and clinical best practices is critical to improving care quality and cost efficiencies.”

Hospice and advanced illness providers offer quality primary care at home, even for those who are not terminal, helping to avert the multiple emergency room visits and hospital stays often associated with advanced heart disease over months or years.

The large majority of patients and caregivers generally prefer to receive care in the comforts of their home environment. The effect of the pandemic on hospital visitor policies, fears of about the spread of the virus, and wanting to avoid overtaxing hospitals, has only intensified such preferences. Patients with cardiovascular disease are substantially more likely than those with other diseases, such as cancer, to die in the hospital or nursing facility than at home. Research suggests that lack of awareness of hospice and palliative care offerings in the community is one of the primary barriers to improved quality and access.

“Far too many Americans die in hospitals—these days, alone—from heart failure because too often, clinicians and patients—particularly minority patients—are not made aware of how not-for-profit hospice and advanced illness care organizations can provide affordable quality care at home,” said  Dr. Muir. “By collaborating with the nation’s leading experts in cardiac care, palliative care, and advanced illness, the guidelines we are developing will provide clarity and access to critical insights, clinical protocols, and resources that are urgently needed to address devastating gaps in care.”

Together with national and community partners, CCH will be working to better understand the needs of patients, family members, and clinicians and develop evidence-based tools that improve care quality, communication and costs. The initial set of resources is expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2021.

About Capital Caring Health
Capital Caring Health is one of the leading nonprofit providers of elder health, hospice, and advanced illness care for persons of all ages in the mid-Atlantic region. A member of a national network of 70 nonprofit hospice providers, our mission is to provide patients and their families with advanced illness care that is second to none. We also have special hospice teams serving children and veterans. On an annual basis, we serve over 7,000 hospice patients and provide more than $3 million in charity care to those who are uninsured and have nowhere else to turn. Almost 90 cents out of every dollar goes to caring for patients and their families.

The website, capitalcaring.org, is available in English, Spanish, and Korean plus offers 24/7 Live Chat. Since the beginning of hospice care over 40 years ago, we have served 120,000 patients and their families in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
24 Hour Care Line: 800-869-2136

Media Contact: Nancy Cook, VP Marketing, Communications & Public Relations
ncook@capitalcaring.org