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Heart-Failure Patients’ Thoughts and Fears Concerning Dying
  1. Kimberley Reeman,
  2. Helen Noble
  1. Kimberley Reeman is Staff Nurse, Catherine James and Egremont Ward, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, and Dr Helen Noble is Lecturer, Health Services, Queen’s University Belfast, and Visiting Honorary Research Fellow, Older Adult Nursing Team, School of Community and Health Sciences, City University, London

Abstract

Patients with heart failure experience a variety of reactions to living with a chronic yet terminal disease. These range from acceptance of death to fear of death. Heart-failure patients have a high symptom burden, which adversely affects their quality of life. Patients are very concerned about the burden that their disease places on their informal caregivers. Such concerns can influence their preferences regarding end-of-life decisions. The care that patients with advanced heart failure receive is suboptimal. Inadequate communication with healthcare professionals leads to a lack of understanding among patients with heart failure relating to decisions that could be made in preparation for the end of life. This article will provide a brief overview of heart failure. It will then discuss heart-failure patients’ varied thoughts, fears and preferences relating to approaching death. It will also discuss the importance of communication and referral to palliative care and make recommendations for education and research. The aim is to help nurses better understand patients’ experiences of living with advanced heart disease. Conflicts of interest: none

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