Newswise — COLUMBIA, Mo. – Heart disease is one of the most common chronic health conditions among nursing home residents. Results from the Missouri Quality Initiative for Nursing Homes (MOQI), a partnership between the University of Missouri and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, indicate that advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) working in nursing homes to perform primary care duties are improving health outcomes for nursing home residents with heart disease.

MOQI provides full-time APRNs who work in participating nursing home facilities to coordinate care and help staff detect health changes early. In the first three years of the program, potentially avoidable hospitalizations have decreased by 34.5 percent, saving money and reducing stress for residents and their families.

“Cardiovascular disease is a highly prevalent problem in nursing homes; however, through the MOQI project we are seeing significant improvements in the management of care as APRNs are available to assist the medical care of residents,” said Marilyn Rantz, Curators Professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing and lead researcher for MOQI. “When you get APRNs into nursing homes, they help improve the overall quality of care because they have advanced knowledge of the best evidence-based practices.”

Launched in 2012, MOQI has provided data to Rantz and her team that can help nursing homes improve care for patients. Rantz says nursing homes need to pay attention not only to the symptoms associated with a resident’s heart failure, but also any early signs and symptoms. In particular, homes should pay attention to the hydration needs of residents with heart disease as many cardiovascular medications can cause severe dehydration.

“The same advice goes to anyone living with heart disease; they should pay attention to the dehydration risks associated with their medications,” Rantz said. “Anyone taking heart medication should prioritize drinking fluids not only at meal times, but in between meals as well.”

Rantz is a member of the Institute of Medicine, executive director of Aging in Place at TigerPlace and associate director for the Interdisciplinary Center on Aging. She serves as the University Hospitals and Clinics Professor Emerita of Nursing and was the Helen E. Nahm Chair from 2008-2015 within the Sinclair School of Nursing.

Editor’s Note:

Throughout the month of February, the University of Missouri will be sharing several stories focused on heart health in observance of American Heart Month. For more event information and heart healthy tips, please visit: