RARITAN, NJ - Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has partnered with Rehab at River’s Edge in Raritan in an effort to educate congestive heart failure patients on how to manage the disease and make lifestyle changes to improve their health.

According to a release, congestive heart failure is a chronic progressive disease that reduces the heart’s ability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. When the kidneys receive less blood, the release said, they are unable to function effectively, leading to fluid build-up in the lungs, liver and legs.

The initiative at Rehab at River’s Edge is called “A Breath of Fresh Care,” and will teach congestive heart failure patients the importance of tracking their blood pressure, fluid intake and weight daily; making dietary changes; and managing medicines.

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The program, the release said, is being funded through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of its Community Care Coordination Initiative, and is focusing on reducing hospital readmission rates.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the release said, currently has a Transitional Care Program to prevent 30-day readmissions for congestive heart failure, pneumonia and more. It was launched with the Robert Wood Johnson Visiting Nurses, with a $4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Among much more, the release said, the program ensures that patients are receiving necessary follow-up care from their physicians. Once a patient is discharged, nurses visit the home to monitor vital signs, diet and more.

“There are 6 million people in the United States that have congestive heart failure, and 555,000 new cases are diagnosed yearly, making our A Breath of Fresh Care program extremely important to the community,” said Mark Lebenthal, M.D., a board certified Cardiologist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset and Director of the A Breath of Fresh Care Program, in the release. “A significant percentage of these patients get readmitted to the hospital within 30 days with the same condition leading to increased health care costs and significant impact on patients’ quality of life. Our goal at Rehab at River's Edge in partnership with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset is to provide a comprehensive program of care for this at risk population so they can manage their symptoms and avoid frequent trips to the hospital."

"We feel very fortunate to have Dr. Lebenthal, the esteemed Cardiologist from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset spearheading a very comprehensive and specialized program for Cardiac patients at Rehab at River's Edge,” added Judy Kushner, Owner and Operator of Rehab at River's Edge, in the release. “With a joint committed effort between Dr. Lebenthal, Rehab at River's Edge and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset this synergy will provide a dynamic experience for those recovering from any cardiac procedure and in need of cardiac rehabilitation."