Heart Failure is increasing in prevalence. This is partly due to the ageing of populations and as a consequence of our better treatment of myocardial infarction. Not only is the number of heart failure patients to be managed great, so is the mortality and morbidity associated with the diagnosis.
Heart failure presents both chronically and acutely. It is characterised by frequent and recurrent hospitalisations, resulting in a huge economic burden on our healthcare systems.
Over the last 10-15 years we have seen an enormous improvement in heart failure therapy. The range of treatments involves drugs, devices, and surgery.
More recent advances will increase the complexity of care for heart failure patients further. This increase in the patient population coupled with the growth in therapeutic options has led to the development of heart failure as a subspecialty of cardiology in its own right. It differs fundamentally from the other subspecialities in that it is focused on entire disease management rather than being primarily procedure related.
The heart team with a special interest in heart failure must have a knowledge of all diagnostic and treatment modalities available.
Heart Failure Specialist Curriculum
The purpose of this heart failure curriculum is to provide a blueprint for training across Europe. This blueprint mirrors other ESC curricula. Each section has three components: the knowledge required, the skills which are necessary, and the professionalism (attitudes and behaviours) which should be attained.
The programme is designed to last 2 years. The first year is devoted to the specialist Heart Failure module. The second year allows completion of the optional modules of advanced imaging, device therapy for implanters, cardiac transplantation, and mechanical circulatory support. The second year can also be devoted to the continuation of specialist heart failure training and/or research for those not wishing to continue with the advanced modules.
Heart Failure Nurse Curriculum
Recent advances in care and management of heart failure have improved outcome, largely as a result of the developing evidence basis for medications, implantable devices and the organisation of heart failure follow-up. Such developments have also increased the complexity of delivering and coordinating care. This has led to a change to the way in which heart failure services are organised and to the traditional role of the heart failure nurse.
Nurses in many countries now provide a range of services that include providing care for patients with acute and with chronic heart failure, working in and across different sectors of care (inpatient, outpatient, community care, the home and remotely), organising care services around the face-to-face and the remote collection of patient data, and liaising with a wide variety of healthcare providers and professionals.
To support such advances the nurse requires a skill set that goes beyond that of their initial education and training. The range of nurses’ roles across Europe is varied. So too is the nature of their educational preparation. This heart failure nurse curriculum aims to provide a framework for use in European Society of Cardiology member countries. Its modular approach enables the key knowledge, skills, and behaviours for the nurse working in different care settings to be outlined and so facilitate nursing staff to play a fuller role within the heart failure team.