Conclusions and Future Directions

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Patients with acute heart failure benefit from early diagnosis, close monitoring and management provided by skilled heart failure teams that include a heart failure nurse specialist and by cardiology ward nurses with sufficient education to support safe practice. As part of the team, the heart failure nurse specialist is well placed to also provide an outreach service to patients throughout the acute heart failure pathway and this requires close collaboration with nurses in non-cardiology specialist areas such as the emergency department and general medical/care-of-the-elderly wards. In contrast to the evidence base to support the heart failure nurse in long-term disease management, the nurse’s role in the acute heart failure pathway is less clearly defined. We now need to turn our attention to this in-patient period and strengthen the evidence that supports the role, number and skill set required of nurses to underpin effective heart failure treatment throughout the entire patient journey.

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