Heart failure patients can now benefit from better
breathing support thanks to a Hawke’s Bay District Health
Board funding initiative.

The funding comes after a
successful 18-month pilot, Better Breathing Hawke’s Bay,
incorporating 59 heart failure patients with breathing
difficulties into the DHB’s pulmonary rehabilitation
programme, normally delivered to chronic respiratory disease

Participants of the pilot, completed earlier
this year, attended twice weekly, two-hour group sessions
focused on exercise and education over a period of eight

Hawke’s Bay DHB Planning, Funding and
Performance Executive Director Emma Foster says pilot
participants’ health and wellbeing had significantly
improved, prompting the DHB to fund the ongoing inclusion of
heart failure patients.

“An audit of the pilot
showed as well as reduced breathlessness and improved
fitness, participants had improved self-management skills
and health literacy,” Mrs Foster says.

with these skills, they were about 50 per cent less likely
to present to hospital,” she says.

General practice
or specialist teams can refer heart or respiratory disease
patients with reduced exercise tolerance, or those who have
difficulty coping with daily activities due to
breathlessness, to the programme.

Better Breathing
Programme Lead Eileen Hall says the programme is an example
of a cornerstone health intervention recognised by the World
Health Organization, Thoracic Society of Australia and NZ
and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung

“We used internationally accredited
assessment tools to measure improvements in quality of life,
fitness and self-management,” says the DHB Clinical Nurse

“These tools showed participants had an
improved quality of life, among other health outcomes,”
she says.

“Participants also benefited from social
interactions with others who have the same challenges, with
some participants even forming their own support

Mrs Hall says many people experiencing
breathlessness need to improve their exercise

“It’s very slow and it’s very patient
dictated but what we find is that over the eight weeks
people can do more exercise, for longer, and become more
independent and self-confident.”

The DHB runs group
sessions in Napier, Hastings, Central Hawkes’ Bay, Wairoa
and virtually via Zoom. Group sizes are limited to

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