End-of-Life Decisions and Palliative Care in Advanced Heart Failure

Deborah E. Meyers, Sarah Goodlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Advanced heart failure (HF) therapies are focused on extending life and improving function. In contrast, palliative care is a holistic approach that focuses on symptom alleviation and patients' physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs. HF clinicians can integrate palliative care strategies by incorporating several important components of planning and decision-making for HF patients. Future care planning (FCP) for HF patients should incorporate the basic tenets of shared decision-making (SDM). These include understanding the patient's perspective and care preferences, articulating what is medically feasible, and integrating these considerations into the overall care plan. Use of defined triggers for FCP can stimulate important patient-caregiver conversations. Guidelines advocate an annual review of HF status and future care preferences. Advance directives are important for any individual with a chronic, life-limiting illness and should be integrated into FCP. Nevertheless, use of advance directives by HF patients is extremely low. Consideration of illness trajectories and risk-scoring tools might facilitate prognostication and delivery of appropriate HF care. Decisions about heart transplantation or left ventricular assist device implantation should include planning for potential complications associated with these therapies. Such decisions also should include a discussion of palliative management, as an alternative to intervention and also as an option for managing symptoms or adverse events after intervention. Palliative care, including FCP and SDM, should be integrated into the course of all patients with advanced HF. Clinicians who provide HF care should acquire the skills necessary for conducting FCP and SDM discussions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1156
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Cardiology
Volume32
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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