Health PEI is developing a new program to help keep people who have experienced congestive heart failure at home.

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Closely monitoring heart patients at home could lead to fewer hospital admissions, says Dr. Richard Wedge. (CBC)

Patients who've had heart failure sometimes have problems with fluid collecting in their lungs. That can lead to repeated trips to the emergency room or admission to hospital.

Health PEI CEO Dr. Richard Wedge told CBC News the new program will have 12 to 15 of these patients get a scale and blood pressure cuff at home. Their weight and blood pressure will be transmitted through a phone line to a central location where a specially trained nurse will read it.

"Early intervention will try and keep patients out of hospital," said Wedge.

"So the nurse would then call the patient and either adjust the medications based on an algorithm that's developed with physicians, or they may ask them to see their family doctor before their weight gain or their blood pressure problem tips them back into congestive heart failure and needs admission to a hospital."

The P.E.I. program is modelled on one offered at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, which monitors 158 patients at home.

Wedge said Ottawa has seen a decrease in admissions to hospital and length of stay there, as well as fewer visits to the emergency room.

Meetings will be held this month with family doctors, internists, ER doctors, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and other groups. Wedge said the plan is to have the program up and running this winter.