Advanced Heart Disease and Hospice Care

Patients with congestive heart failure, or CHF, need access to caregivers with the expertise and skills to help them manage their symptoms. Families may have trouble knowing how to care for a patient with heart disease, and caregiver burnout can leave family members exhausted and overwhelmed. When it comes to advanced heart disease hospice care, emotional support can be as important as physical symptom management and assistance with daily tasks, and an effective hospice care team provides services to help both the patient and the family navigate this stage of life. Three Oaks Hospice offers a wide range of care options for patients with advanced heart disease and works with families to deliver the right level of personalized care for each patient.

Understanding Advanced Heart Disease

Heart disease involves a gradual decline in heart function. The heart muscle becomes less able to efficiently pump blood throughout the body, which can cause fluid buildup in various organs. Congestive heart failure typically develops over a long period of time, although the early stages might go undiagnosed for a while. The patient might have tried various therapies for heart disease before reaching the endpoint of the illness.

In earlier stages, the symptoms are often manageable through medication, lifestyle changes, or surgical intervention. Over time, though, the heart becomes more strained, and it becomes harder to maintain normal functioning. Fatigue, pain, and shortness of breath increase and start to occur even when the patient is at rest.

CHF doesn’t always follow a straight forward trajectory, and many patients experience intermittent periods of recovery as their overall health declines. Generally, a doctor recommends hospice for CHF patients when the prognosis is about six months of life or less, but the unpredictable nature of advanced heart disease often makes it hard to determine when a patient should enter hospice care. Some signs that your loved one with CHF might be ready for hospice care include:

  • Frequent episodes of chest pain, also called angina, even during periods of rest

  • A long-term decline in overall health, including increasing fatigue, shortness of breath, and increasing difficulty handling everyday tasks of living

  • Treatment options have ceased working, and there are no more treatments available

How Hospice for CHF Patients Works

The goal of hospice care for CHF is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible while managing the symptoms of advanced heart disease. CHF hospice care is coordinated with the patient’s cardiologist to help reduce the risk of repeated hospitalizations for acute episodes related to the heart condition. The hospice team monitors the patient’s condition and overall health.

Some CHF patients require oxygen tanks or other medical equipment to keep symptoms under control, and hospice care can help the patient with this kind of equipment. Medication management is another way hospice workers can help since advanced heart disease patients often take medicines. The specific medical assistance provided by the hospice team depends on the individual’s symptoms and what kind of interventions they want.

Caretakers for advanced heart disease hospice patients may help with personal tasks, such as grooming, bathing, eating, and assistance getting in or out of bed. This helps patients live independently and remain in their own homes.

The emotional and spiritual health of a patient with advanced heart disease is as important as the patient’s physical condition so that hospice care can include visits from volunteers, social workers, therapists, and spiritual counselors. Loneliness, depression, and anxiety are common issues for advanced heart disease patients. Whether the patient needs someone to talk to about philosophical concerns at the end of life or just wants someone to sit and chat or play a game of cards, hospice care helps give an extra layer of peace of mind.

Hospice care can also include family services, such as family counseling and bereavement services. The hospice team can offer advice and suggestions to make caregiving easier on the family and can provide caregiver education for family members who want to help the heart patient manage symptoms but aren’t sure what to do. Hospice services may also include respite care, temporary care designed to let family members take a break from caregiving.

Making a Decision About CHF Hospice Care

While a doctor might recommend hospice care, the ultimate decision is up to the patient and their family.

The patient should speak to family members and medical providers to discuss what types of intervention, they do or don’t want and at what point in the disease. The hospice team ensures that the patient remains comfortable and at peace during those final days, weeks, or months of life.

Three Oaks Hospice has locations in Texas, Missouri, Illinois and Kansas to provide a high level of end-of-life care for patients in their communities. If you’re searching for an advanced heart disease hospice care provider, contact Three Oaks Hospice to learn about your options today.