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Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2003 Sep;2(3):213-7.

Symptoms experienced in the last six months of life in patients with end-stage heart failure.

Author information

  • 1Department of Caring and Public Health Sciences, Mälardalen University, Västerås, Karpvägen 6, Kvicksund 640 45, Sweden. lena.nordgren@mdh.se

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite today's modern therapy, the advancement of chronic heart failure (CHF) has not been curbed (Dying from heart failure: lessons from palliative care, BMJ, 317, 1998, 961-962, Editorial). Consequently, the suffering in patients with end-stage CHF is still present. The knowledge on the frequency of symptoms in these patients is scarce.

AIMS:

The aim of this study was to achieve a deeper understanding of patients with end-stage CHF and to describe symptoms in these patients during the last 6 months of life by examining documentation in medical records.

METHODS:

The study adopted a descriptive, retrospective design using record reviews to collect data, in which 80 medical records of patients hospitalised for CHF in 1995 were reviewed. Descriptive statistics and Student's t-tests were performed.

RESULTS:

Breathlessness was the most common symptom (men 90%, women 86%). The largest gender difference was on limitation in physical activity (men=77%, women=37%, total=49%, P=0.001).

CONCLUSION:

(1) Twenty-one symptoms were observed, implicating that, patients with CHF in later stages of the disease experience a wide range of symptoms. (2) Despite the fact that several symptoms were documented by both nurses and physicians, it is quite remarkable that symptom-controlling measures were only provided sparingly. (3) A palliative care approach may benefit patients suffering from end-stage CHF.

PMID:
14622629
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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