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People often associate hospice care with cancer, but patients with many other diseases also benefit from hospice care, including those with heart disease. A new study finds that patients with heart failure who use hospice have fewer emergency room visits and experience fewer days in the hospital. The most recent American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association heart failure guidelines now recommends palliative/hospice care referral for end-stage heart failure.
Patients with heart disease can experience ups and downs over a long course of the disease. The following signs may indicate that hospice care could help:
- Increasing frequency of hospitalizations for worsening symptoms
- Increasing fatigue and shortness of breath with minimal activity or at rest, despite medication
- Surgery or use of device therapy is no longer an option or is not desired
- Increasing dependence on oxygen therapy or need for increased flow
By working with the patient’s cardiologist, hospice and palliative care specialists have the tools and resources to relieve symptoms, improve patient satisfaction, and decrease the cost of care for patients. Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice collaborates with cardiologists in the region to use proactive interventions to monitor patient symptoms and quickly address issues as they develop and change.
Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice offers support to address a wide range of symptoms.
- Respiratory therapy to manage shortness of breath
- Medications and therapies to ease pain and hypertension
- Medical equipment and therapies to counteract weakness and fatigue
By keeping track of weight, respiratory status, emotional status and tolerance for activities, hospice pay immediate attention to changes in condition and help to prevent emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
The hospice team, family caregiver and patient together create an action plan that includes:
• Self-care strategies for patient
• Symptom recognition
• Medication education
• Recognition of caregiver needs
Patient caregivers play a vital role with cardiac patients, providing physical and emotional comfort and support, searching out resources, scheduling appointments and helping to manage symptoms. Our hospice nurses work closely with caregivers so they gain an understanding of the illness and develop skills to respond to changes in patient condition. Caregiver preparedness increases confidence and is a major factor in easing caregiver stress. Hospice care can also provide respite support so that caregivers can be relieved of what can sometimes seem like an overwhelming burden. This proactive approach assures a better quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver.
For additional information, please contact Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice at 937.390.9665 or 800.653.4490.