Published on February 05, 2018

Patient education is key to cardiac care

The American Heart Association calls it “Therapeutic Patient Education,” or TPE, in a new scientific statement that recommends a tailored approach to teaching heart patients how to live more comfortably with their disease.

Megan A. Titas, MD, a cardiologist who recently joined The Cardiovascular Specialists in Falmouth, calls it “TLC” (tender loving care), and says she is glad there is growing scientific evidence to support what doctors innately know: There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all medicine.

“Doctors are teachers, and we really have to listen to what each patient is saying,” she said. “Patients need as much information as we can give them.

“The American Heart Association’s scientific statement sounds like common sense, but it’s based on an integrative review of the literature on TPE for self-management in cardiovascular conditions.”

Studies on TPE in patients with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation were reviewed.

The scientific statement concluded, “It is clear that patient education alone does not work and that multiple strategies, tailored to the individual patient, are essential for self-management to be successful.”

A Team Approach

According to the American Heart Association, patients need:

  • Knowledge of their disease
  • Self-management skills to apply this knowledge to their daily lives
  • Confidence that they can sustain self-management.

“When we take time to educate each patient in their own way, we can make it easier for patients and their families to assume more responsibility for their own self-management,” said Dr. Titas. “We can engage and educate patients, let them be part of their own healthcare decisions, and help them understand why they are taking a particular medicine, therapy or other course of action.”

How can practitioners follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation, which can mean spending more time with patients?

Dr. Titas answers without hesitation, “We form good working relationships and educate patients about what’s going on with their care. We have a team of people including nurses, dietitians, therapists and others—not just a doctor—providing each patient with the best care possible.

Patients are the “captains of the ship,” said Dr. Titas, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy who completed a six-year tour of service.

A graduate of Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, Dr. Titas comes to Cape Cod Hospital from Boston Medical Center.

Her husband, Jeffrey Siegert, MD, also a lieutenant commander, is a general surgeon at Falmouth Hospital.

“I have bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and biology from the University of South Carolina,” Dr. Titas said. “I’ve always liked the social side of medicine that anthropology gives you. Everyone is different, and I’m very interested in people on an individual basis. You have to talk with patients and figure out how to reach each one as an individual to provide the best possible care, and that’s what TPE is all about.”