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Patients with heart failure do not recognize their symptoms until they’re very severe. So having a technology that helps them or their loved ones identify symptoms is incredibly helpful.
Pamela Cacchione, PhD, RN, FAAN

Heart failure affects 86 million Americans and by the time many people living  with heart failure realize they’re in trouble, it’s often too late— their symptoms are at a dangerous severe level for hospitalization.

But thankfully, nurses are working with engineers to develop the technology to change this narrative; providing tools that enable those affected or their loved ones to recognize red flags before things become critical.

Get ready to put your best foot forward! Today on This Is Getting Old: Moving Towards an Age-Friendly World, we’re taking our knowledge up a notch with Pamela Cacchione, PhD, RN, FAAN – an expert in nurse innovation. 

She’s here to make sure you don’t miss out on an emerging technology that can help manage heart failure – Heart Failure Socks.

Key points covered in this episode:

✔️ What Are Heart Failure Socks?

Heart failure monitoring socks are a revolutionary technology for heart failure patients. By tracking swelling of the feet and fatigue, these innovative socks can detect any changes in heart failure symptoms before they become dangerous–empowering patients to take greater control of their health and seek out medical advice as soon as possible. 

In addition to providing patient-tailored data crucial for better treatment decisions by clinicians, the thought of having a ‘high-tech’ solution for something so mundane can be incredibly encouraging for those coping with a chronic illness. Heart failure monitoring socks significantly reduce the risk of worsening symptoms due to the timely warnings they provide, ultimately making life considerably more manageable and less stressful.

✔️ How The Heart Failure Socks Came to Be

Pamela’s brother was 40 years old when he underwent open heart surgery, during which the doctor performed a mitral valve replacement. Unfortunately, this resulted in the development of heart failure. Since his brother resided in Maryland at the time and Pamela was located in Pennsylvania, she had to assist with managing her brother’s condition remotely. Her brother refused to weigh himself despite his condition, leaving Pamela exasperated. 

As an alternative way of assessing his weight gain due to fluid accumulation, Pamela suggested observing how deep the indentations were on his socks caused by their compression; they deduced that as they became more deeply impressed into his skin, it would indicate that he had accumulated more fluid than usual. To do so, they utilized FaceTime video chat to observe these indents and better understand how much fluid he had retained. 

The lingering idea of developing heart failure monitoring socks for other people like her brother, Peter, who did not want to weigh themselves, was very percolated before Pam finally started investigating and working on them.

✔️ Socking Away Heart Failure: Progress in a Pair of Socks 

Pamela Cacchione, PhD, RN, FAAN and Heart Failure Socks has gone through an impressive journey to get to where it is now as a finalist in the J&J Quick Fire and ANA Awards. 

Her unwavering persistence and endurance throughout the application process set her apart from other applicants. 

She started her own company, Aging Sense, LLC, and went through an extensive process with her university’s Penn Center for Innovation to make it happen. The school-owned center assists in furthering the dreams of those with innovative ideas, which helped Pamela meet all the criteria needed for her to be considered for such a prestigious Innovation Award and internal funding.

✔️ Next Steps For The Heart Failure Monitoring Socks

When asked about her plans for the Heart Failure Monitoring Socks, Pam answered, “After extensive research, I have decided that my next step is to pilot test a small project involving participants in a nursing home.”

“After collecting data from this test, I plan to submit an STTR – a business-style grant. This would be organized to obtain funding and resources for the project to increase its reach and expand any benefits it might bring about.” 

“By taking these steps, I hope to ensure the success of this project and allow it to have an even greater impact than originally expected.”

✔️ How To Connect With Pam?

Connecting with Pam is easier than ever! For those in the nursing profession, the University of Pennsylvania Penn Nursing website is a valuable resource to view her work and learn more about her expertise in aging. 

Additionally, you can reach out to Pam via email at pamelaca@nursing.upenn.edu or follow her on Twitter @agingsense1 for valuable insights not available elsewhere. With so many options available to make contact and stay connected, introducing yourself to Pam is just one click away!

If you have questions, or comments or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at melissabphd@gmail.com, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question. 

More Resources About Memory And Alzheimer’s Disease …

This Is Getting Old has several other episodes about memory and Alzheimer’s. You can check them out below:

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”custom” border_width=”4″ el_width=”60″ accent_color=”#0068cd”][vc_column_text]About Melissa:

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer.

I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (2011) ) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities.

Find out more about her work HERE.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at MelissaBPhD.com to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
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Find out more about her work HERE.