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Int J Cardiol. 2008 Apr 10;125(2):183-90. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Defining the role of palliative care in older adults with heart failure.

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Department of Medicine, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, USA.


While palliative care is often thought of as only being applicable to dying patients, its focus on symptom alleviation, patient function, and quality of life has much to offer older adults with chronic heart failure. Heart failure worsens patients' health status through patients' symptom burden, functional limitations, and reduced health-related quality of life. Moreover, older adults with heart failure have multiple other comorbidities and polypharmacy that further contribute to poor health status. Comorbid depression is a particularly important issue. In this patient population, prognosis is limited and often uncertain. Spouses and caregivers of patients report significant distress and depression. Through symptom management, depression and psychosocial care, assistance with defining goals of care and planning for the future, and caregiver support, palliative care has the potential to improve patient health status and reduce costs and hospitalizations. This care is complementary to contemporary heart failure care and can be provided concurrently at any point during the illness based on patient and caregiver needs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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