As the Medical Director of United Hospice, I am intimately familiar with the unique challenges of managing heart conditions, particularly Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). Heart disease remains a potent threat to our health, implicated in 1 out of 8 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). My goal with this blog post is to shed light on the complex issue of managing CHF symptoms and how hospice care, specifically at United Hospice, plays a crucial role in improving patient quality of life.
Hospice Care: A Compassionate Approach to Heart Disease
Unlike conventional healthcare, which focuses on treating the underlying disease, hospice care emphasizes the management of symptoms, such as respiratory distress and pain, when disease-directed treatments are no longer adequate. This patient-centric approach improves patients’ comfort and quality of life. The symptom burden in advanced CHF is similar to that of advanced cancer, indicating that CHF patients should also have access to expert symptom-directed care. Hospice care also addresses the emotional and psychological aspects of the disease, which are often overlooked in traditional medical treatment.
Studies suggest that hospice can improve both length and quality of life for heart failure patients. For instance, a study by Connor et al. (2007) found that heart failure patients who received hospice care lived over 25% longer than those who did not.
How United Hospice Cares for CHF Patients
United Hospice provides comprehensive services for CHF patients, including expert pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support and caregiver education. These services have been associated with fewer hospitalizations, decreased reliance on invasive medical procedures, and improved outcomes.
Importantly, hospice does not hasten death or equate to ‘giving up’. Instead, hospice allows patients and their families to shift their focus towards comfort and quality of life when traditional approaches are no longer beneficial.
When should CHF Patients Consider United Hospice?
Recognizing the need for hospice care for CHF patients can be challenging. However, acknowledging the signs of advanced CHF and making an informed decision to pursue hospice care can ensure that patients receive the specialized support they require.
Any of these findings suggest a CHF patient should consider contacting hospice:
- If the patient has congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease and experiences worsening angina, shortness of breath, or decline in function.
- If the optimal treatment for the patient’s condition has already been provided and the patient isn’t a candidate for further surgical or medical intervention.
- If the patient has made the personal decision not to pursue any more specialized treatment.
At United Hospice, we advocate for early hospice planning. This allows patients to focus on symptom management, provides time for informed decision-making, and fosters open discussions about feelings, fears, and wishes. It culminates in better care, improved communication, and emotional preparation, ensuring that the patient’s preferences and values are honored throughout their end-of-life journey.
The United Hospice Difference
United Hospice is committed to providing high-quality care to CHF patients and their families. Our patient-centric approach focuses on individualized care plans, including pain and symptom management, in-home and residential care options, family education and involvement, and support from social workers, chaplains, and volunteers. This kind of support helps eliminate further undesired and non-beneficial hospitalizations and helps provide patients with the utmost dignity, respect, and compassion during their final months.
If you or a loved one are dealing with CHF, consider reaching out to United Hospice. Our team of healthcare providers is dedicated to providing compassion, comfort, and dignity when it matters most. To learn more or get the answers you need, call United Hospice at 845.634.4974.
- Pain Management Glossary (CAPC)
- “Hospice for Heart Disease & End-Stage CHF (Congestive Heart Failure)” (VITAS Healthcare)
- Heart Failure and Palliative Care: When to Engage (NHPCO)
- Help for Heart Failure Caregivers (AHA)
- Hospice Care (AHA)
- Hospice Use Among Patients with Heart Failure (Radclidde Cardiology)
- Adler ED, Goldfinger JZ, Kalman J, Park ME, Meier DE. Palliative care in the treatment of advanced heart failure. Circulation. 2009;120:2597-2606.
- Blinderman CD, Homel P, Billings JA, Portenoy RK, Tennstedt SL. Symptom distress and quality of life in patients with advanced congestive heart failure. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2008;35(6):594-603
- Connor SR, Fitch K, Iwasaki K. Comparing Hospice and Nonhospice Patient
- Survival Among Patients Who Die Within a Three-Year Window. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007;33:238-246.