Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a chronic illness. Few adults with CHD are cured and those with disease of moderate or great complexity remain at risk of premature death. Current adult CHD guidelines recommend that providers encourage their patients to complete advance directives. We evaluated the prevalence of completed advance directives by and the preference for information about life expectancy of outpatients at a large adult CHD program. Two hundred patients with CHD (52% men, 35 ± 15 years old, range 18 to 79, 81% with disease of moderate or great complexity) completed a survey that assessed knowledge of advance directives and nature of and preferences for advance care planning. Only 5% of patients reported that they had completed advance directives; 56% had never heard of them. However, most patients (87%) reported that they would prefer to have an advance directive available if they were dealing with their own dying and were unable to speak for themselves. Patients who had formally identified substitute decision makers (n = 34) were typically older (47 ± 16 vs 33 ± 13 years, p <0.001) and more likely to have partners (30% vs 6%, p <0.001). Most patients (70%) reported that they wanted general information about the average life expectancy for patients with their heart condition. In conclusion, in contrast to recommendations from published guidelines, advance care planning documents are infrequently completed by outpatients. Health care providers caring for patients with CHD should educate their patients about advance directives and assist them in preparing formal end-of-life-planning documents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine