Simulator puts health providers in shoes of heart failure patients

Through a series of visual and audio effects, the participant is taken on a virtual tour through a heart failure patient’s daily experiences.

A heart failure educational simulator, the “Heart FX Pod,” will be at the North Campus of the Health Science Center from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3. The simulator will be in the parking lot in front of the Children’s Cancer Research Institute, 8403 Floyd Curl Drive.

The Health Science Center is providing space for the simulator as a service to the community’s health professionals.

“February is Heart Failure Month,” said Steven R. Bailey, M.D., professor of medicine in the division of cardiology. “Heart failure is expected to be the leading cause of admission to hospitals in 2006. Learning to identify patients with this problem and treatment strategies is critical to helping patients stay out of the hospital. This new simulator enables health professionals to experience symptoms of heart failure firsthand. It is designed for residents, fellows, primary care providers, nurses, pharmacists, cath lab technicians and others who see heart failure.”

All health professionals in San Antonio and South Texas are welcome to attend the free demonstration. To avoid waiting, professionals are encouraged to select a time for their session at For questions, call Lisa Moutria in the division of cardiology at (210) 567-4601. Health Science Center students also are encouraged to visit the simulator.

The Heart FX Pod, developed by AstraZeneca, is a multisensory, interactive, patient-perspective simulation of the impact of heart failure on daily activity. By stepping inside, a generally healthy person will gradually feel the debilitating effects of heart failure, which can include shortness of breath, exercise limitation and fatigue.

The Heart FX Pod is designed to help physicians better understand the impact of Class II and Class III heart failure on their patients. By immersing physicians in an evolving, “real-life” patient experience, the pod stresses the importance of treating a chronic condition such as heart failure.

The Pod is on a national tour throughout 2006, stopping at major cardiac centers, hospitals and conventions across the country, allowing physicians nationwide the opportunity to experience some of the symptoms of heart failure firsthand.

Once inside the Pod, the participant is presented with a patient profile and brief orientation sequence, outfitted with a compression vest and situated on foot pedals. Through a series of visual and audio effects, the participant is taken on a virtual tour through a heart failure patient’s daily experiences. The participant first hears the patient story and then gradually begins to feel some of the physical effects of heart failure as the vest tightens and the foot pedal resistance increases. When the 5 ½-minute simulation draws to a close, the participant walks away having experienced the struggle heart failure patients endure each day.

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