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Feature Article

Heart failure and palliative care: are we there yet?

Jane Phillips, Miriam Johnson, David C Currow

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Abstract

Integrating a palliative approach with active management can help identify and address the significant needs of patients with advanced heart failure.

Key Points

  • Introducing a palliative approach to care of patients with heart failure while still attempting to modify the disease course through treatment can improve patients’ quality of life.
  • Patients who would benefit from a palliative approach can be better identified by tools that assess needs rather than prognosis.
  • Optimal palliative care of patients with heart failure integrates ongoing active management with specific interventions to manage symptoms such as breathlessness and oedema.
  • A plan for deactivation of implantable cardioverter defibrillators at the end of life should be devised and discussed with patients.
  • Patients should be given the opportunity to reflect on and communicate their preferences for end-of-life care early in the disease process.

    Picture credit: © And.One/Dollar Photo Club

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