Despite that chronic heart failure is associated with a poor prognosis, only few patients receive palliative care. Among patients with advanced stages of heart failure, previous studies have mainly focused on solitary specific signs or symptoms and few have described the patients’ situation from a more comprehensive perspective. The aim was therefore to undertake a comprehensive description of potential palliative care needs in terms of signs, symptoms and health related quality of life (HRQoL) among patients with advanced chronic heart failure.
The study included 72 patients with advanced chronic heart failure (NYHA III and IV), taken from a larger multi-centre study. The study variables included demographic data, medical and nutritional status, sleeping disordered breathing, physical activity, self-perceived symptoms and HRQoL, and cognitive function.
A large number of the patients scored appetite levels at increased risk for weight loss (53%), scored mild or worse depressive symptoms (47%), was short of breath in rest (43%), and had moderate or worse pain (82%). Mobility problems were common (72%) as well as problems conducting usual activities (33%). Problems with low physical activity according to average number of steps (2691±2022) and METs (1.0±0.2), insomnia (64%), daytime sleepiness (44%) and sleep disordered breathing (AHI ≥ 15, 56%) were common. The mean BMI was high (30.2±5.7) and 18% had albumin levels ≤ 35 (mean 38.8±3.7). Impaired cognitive functioning was common (MMSE ≤ 27, 54%). HRQoL was in general low (EQ-index 0.65±0.22; EQ-VAS 50.8±17.6). Therefore, health professional should focus on palliative care needs earlier in the disease trajectory.
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