Heart failure (HF) is a chronic, debilitating condition associated with significant morbidity, mortality, and socioeconomic burden. Patients with end-stage HF (ESHF) who are not a candidate for advanced therapies will continue to progress despite standard medical therapy. Thus, the focus of care shifts from prolonging life to controlling symptoms and improving quality of life through palliative care (PC). Because the condition and prognosis of HF patients evolve and can rapidly deteriorate, it is imperative to begin the discussion on end-of-life (EOL) issues early during HF management. These include the completion of an advance directive, do-not-resuscitate orders, and policies on device therapy and discontinuation as part of advance care planning (ACP). ESHF patients who do not have indications for advanced therapies or those who wish not to have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or heart transplant (HT) often experience high symptom burden despite adequate medical management. The proper identification and assessment of symptoms such as pain, dyspnea, nausea, depression, and anxiety are essential to the management of ESHF and may be underdiagnosed and undertreated. Psychological support and spiritual care are also crucial to improving the quality of life during EOL. Caregivers of ESHF patients must also be provided supportive care to prevent compassion fatigue and improve resilience in patient care. In this narrative review, we compare the international guidelines and provide an overview of end-of-life and palliative care for patients with ESHF.
Rivera FB, Choi S, Carado GP, et al. End-Of-Life Care for Patients With End-Stage Heart Failure, Comparisons of International Guidelines. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine®. 2024;41(1):87-98. doi:10.1177/10499091231154575