- Proper nutrition: End-stage CHF patients generally have a poor appetite, and lack of proper nutrition may make their symptoms worse. The palliative care team helps ensure the patient gets the nutrients they need without aspiration (entry of food or liquids into the airways).
- Adequate rest: As symptoms worsen, it may be difficult for the patient to get proper sleep. Palliative care helps reduce symptoms such as anxiety, cough, and shortness of breath, which can make the patient more comfortable and rest more easily.
- Physical rehabilitation: CHF symptoms can make it difficult for the patient to perform even simple tasks such as brushing their teeth or using the bathroom without feeling breathless. Lack of physical activity can also increase the risk of complications such as bed sores and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The palliative care team supports the patient with appropriate physical rehabilitation without aggravating their symptoms.
- Addressing physical symptoms: Medications and physical therapy are often used in combination with each other to ease symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and swelling. This helps improve the patient’s quality of life.
- Mental and emotional care: End-stage CHF can make the patient apprehensive, anxious, irritable, or depressed. Proper counseling or psychotherapy can help them deal with the disease more effectively.
- Caregiver support: Caregivers of patients with advanced CHF need to be cared for as well. Seeing a loved one getting closer to death can be extremely difficult, and family members are often at a loss as to how to address their loved one’s needs. The palliative care team eases the burden and ensures that both the care team and the caregiver are on the same page and prepared for what is to come.
What is CHF?
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic condition in which the heart does not pump enough blood to meet the body’s demand for oxygen and nutrients This causes a buildup of fluid in the lungs and other parts of the body, typically the feet, ankles, and legs. Heart failure does not mean that the heart has stopped working or is about to stop working; it simply means that it is not working efficiently enough to do its job of pumping blood to various body parts.
Heart failure can affect anyone, although it is more common in men than in women. It affects about 870,000 people each year in the United States. Heart failure is more common in older individuals (over 65), those who are obese or overweight, African Americans, and individuals with underlying cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attack or high blood pressure).
What is end-of-life care?
End-of-life care or hospice care refers to the care of a dying patient. These terms are often used interchangeably with palliative care. Palliative care is a broader term that refers to improving the patient’s quality of life and making things easier for their families. It is offered to patients with serious diseases such as congestive heart failure (CHF), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic renal failure (CRF).
End-of-life care focuses on helping the patient feel as comfortable as possible and helping family members cope with the challenge of looking after their ailing loved one, rather than improving disease prognosis. End-of-life care bridges the gap between the patient’s needs and their caregiver's concerns, bringing everyone on the same page.
The care team includes professionals who specialize in palliative care, such as:
- Treating cardiologist
How to get palliative care for CHF
Over 6 million patients have heart failure in the United States. About 10% of these patients are in advanced stages of the disease. Despite the enormous need for palliative care, only a few patients take advantage of it.
If you are seeking palliative care for your loved one, talk to a doctor or go to a Palliative Care Provider Directory to find palliative care facilities nearby.
Family members can also join support groups to connect with other patients and families coping with heart failure. One such group is through the American Heart Association (AHA) and can be accessed on supportnetwork.heart.org/heart. Another support group that provides valuable information is called Conquering CHD.
Palliative care helps address both patients’ and caregivers’ concerns, making it possible to cope with CHF with dignity and as much comfort as possible.
Latest Heart News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Center to Advance Palliative Care. Congestive Heart Failure and Palliative Care. https://getpalliativecare.org/whatis/disease-types/congestive-heart-failure-palliative-care/
Teuteberg JJ, Teuteberg WG. Palliative Care for Patients With Heart Failure. American College of Cardiology. https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2016/02/11/08/02/palliative-care-for-patients-with-heart-failure
American Heart Association. Planning for Advanced Heart Failure. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/living-with-heart-failure-and-managing-advanced-hf/planning-ahead-advanced-heart-failure
Top What Is End-of-Life Care for Patients With CHF Related Articles
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to a condition in which the heart loses the ability to function properly. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, myocarditis, and cardiomyopathies are just a few potential causes of congestive heart failure. Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure may include fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, angina, and edema. Physical examination, patient history, blood tests, and imaging tests are used to diagnose congestive heart failure. Treatment of heart failure consists of lifestyle modification and taking medications to decrease fluid in the body and ease the strain on the heart. The prognosis of a patient with congestive heart failure depends on the stage of the heart failure and the overall condition of the individual.
Heart Disease: Best and Worst Foods for Heart FailureLearn which dietary changes help your heart, and which ones make it work harder.
Heart Disease QuizTake our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes, symptoms, treatments, testing, and procedures for medically broken hearts.
Heart failure (congestive) is caused by many conditions including coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, and conditions that overwork the heart. Symptoms of heart failure include
- congested lungs,
- fluid and water retention,
- fatigue and weakness, and
- rapid or irregular heartbeats.
There are two types of congestive heart failure, systolic or left-sided heart failure; and diastolic or right-sided heart failure. Treatment, prognosis, and life-expectancy for a person with congestive heart failure depends upon the stage of the disease.
Heart Failure QuizWhat is heart failure? Learn about this dangerous condition, as well as who is at risk, and what to do about it.
How Long Can You Live With Heart Failure?What is the life expectancy of people with heart failure? Learn about survival rates, determining factors, and lifestyle changes that may help increase your life expectancy.
How Long Do End-of-Life Symptoms Last?End-of-life symptoms vary from person to person. For some, they may end quickly, and for others, they may linger for days, weeks, or even months.
What Are the 4 Stages of Congestive Heart Failure?The New York Heart Association developed the four stages of congestive heart failure depending on the functional capabilities of the heart which includes Class I, Class II, Class III, and Class IV.
What Causes Congestive Heart Failure?Congestive heart failure is a chronic disease that progresses with time if left untreated. Heart failure can occur due to diseases of the heart, the blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrients to the heart, or sometimes from factors outside the heart (extracardiac causes). With proper management, people who have congestive heart failure can lead nearly normal lives, depending on the severity of the condition.
Why Are Diuretics Used in Heart Failure?Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to efficiently pump blood to meet the body’s oxygen and nutrient needs. This leads to excess fluid in the blood that leaks from blood vessels and accumulates in the lungs and other tissues. Diuretics treat this symptom by causing the kidneys to filter out more fluid as urine.