Duke Endowment Funds Joint School of Nursing, Medicine Home-Based Cardiac Rehab Program

North Carolinians spent roughly $12.5 million a day in hospital charges related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2015. In that same year, the disease claimed the lives of 18,467 of the state’s citizens died and hospitalized more than 100,120.

A team of faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing and School of Medicine is working to decrease those numbers with HeartHome, a two-year project recently funded by a $710,000 grant from The Duke Endowment.

HeartHome is a nurse-driven, home-based cardiac rehabilitation program for underserved patients in North Carolina aimed at improving access to cardiac rehabilitation, a therapy proven to decrease the risk of subsequent heart attacks and CVD-related causes of death, and to benefit CVD patients’ overall health and quality of life.

Despite the preponderance of evidence of the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation for CVD patients, fewer than 25 percent of those in need of the therapy enroll in it, and of those who do, women, racial and ethnic minorities, rural dwellers and those with low socioeconomic status are greatly underrepresented. HeartHome aims to eliminate the barriers these patients face by offering the program in-home.

Partners in the HeartHome project include Well Care Home Health, North Carolina’s largest home health agency, which will train the HeartHome registered nurses to provide the home-based cardiac rehabilitation care, and UNC Health Care, which will assist with technology and equipment needs, as well as promotion of the project.

Ultimately HeartHome aims to provide a model of care that can be easily replicated and adopted by other health care organizations, ensuring more affected patients enroll in and adhere to cardiac rehabilitation and realize its benefits for their overall health. Achieving this outcome will likewise reduce hospital readmissions, emergency department visits, and CVD-related health care costs.