Ischaemic heart disease (IHD), in particular acute coronary syndrome (ACS), comprising ST-elevation myocardial infarction, non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction and unstable angina, is the leading cause of death worldwide. Age is a major predictor of adverse outcome following ACS. COVID-19 infection seems to escalate the risk in older patients with heart disease. Increasing odds of in-hospital death is associated with older age following COVID-19 infection. Importantly, it seems older patients with comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), in particular IHD, diabetes and hypertension, are at the highest risk of mortality following COVID-19 infection. The evidence is sparse on the optimal care of older patients with ACS with lack of robust randomised controlled trials. In this setting, with the serious threat imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of rapidly evolving knowledge with much unknown, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of treatment strategies offered to older patients. In cases where risks outweigh the benefits, it might not be an unreasonable option to treat such patients with a conservative or a palliative approach. Further evidence to elucidate whether invasive management is beneficial in older patients with ACS is required out-with the COVID-19 pandemic. Though it is hoped that the actual acute phase of COVID-19 infection will be short lived, it is vital that important clinical research is continued, given the long-term benefits of ongoing clinical research for patients with long-term conditions, including CVD. This review aimed to evaluate the challenges and the management strategies in the care of older patients presenting with ACS in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PURPOSE: Women who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have similar rates of survival to hospital admission as men; however, women are less likely to survive to hospital discharge. We hypothesized that women would have higher rates of "do not attempt resuscitation" (DNAR) orders and that this order would be associated with lower use of aggressive interventions.
METHODS: We identified adult hospital admissions with a diagnosis of cardiac arrest (ICD-9 427.5) from the 2010 California State Inpatient Dataset. Multivariable logistic regression was used to test the association between patient sex and a DNAR order within the first 24 h of admission, adjusting for patient demographic characteristics and comorbid medical conditions. In secondary analysis, procedures performed after establishment of DNAR order and survival to hospital discharge were compared by sex.
FINDINGS: We analyzed 6562 patients (44% women, 56% men) who experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and survived to hospital admission. In unadjusted analysis, more women than men had establishment of a DNAR order during the first 24 h of admission (23.4% versus 19.3%; P < 0.01). After adjusting for age, race, and comorbid conditions, women remained significantly more likely to have a DNAR order established during the first 24 h of their hospital admission after cardiac arrest compared with men (odds ratio = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.09-1.40). No sex difference was found in procedures used after DNAR order was established.
IMPLICATIONS: Female survivors of cardiac arrest are significantly more likely than men to have a DNAR order established within the first 24 h of in-hospital treatment. The establishment of a DNAR order is associated with patients undergoing fewer procedures than individuals who do not have a DNAR order established. Given that patients who have a DNAR order receive less-aggressive intervention after arrest, it is possible that an early DNAR order may contribute to sex differences in survival to hospital discharge.
Heart failure (HF), a clinical syndrome with variable trajectory has become more common. As people with HF experience functional decline during periods of deterioration in their HF status, or with aging, their needs for palliative care increase. This review considers the palliative aspects of evidence-based HF care, which benefit patients while also addressing the underlying etiology of the HF. We also identify symptoms common to patients with HF and management beyond evidence-based HF care. Prognostic models and tools to identify patients appropriately evaluated by HF specialty experts might help clinicians understand the patient's status. Rather than trying to identify a point at which palliative care should be included in care for a patient with HF, we suggest that identifying specific needs of the patient and family is a better way to target palliative care interventions. We review available publications that have explored integration of palliative care into HF care, and propose an outpatient clinic model that assesses needs and symptoms and directs HF specialist or palliative care based on this assessment.
BACKGROUND: Use of hospice has grown among patients with heart failure; however, gaps remain in the ability of agencies to tailor services to meet their needs.
AIM: This study describes the implementation of a cardiac home hospice program and insights for dissemination to other hospice programs.
DESIGN: We conducted a multimethod analysis structured around the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.
SETTINGS/PARTICIPANTS: We used electronic medical records for our quantitative data source and interviews with hospice clinicians from a not-for-profit hospice agency (N = 32) for our qualitative data source.
RESULTS: Reach-A total of 1273 participants were enrolled in the cardiac home hospice program, of which 57% were female and 42% were black or Hispanic with a mean age was 86 years. Effectiveness-The cardiac home hospice program increased hospice enrollment among patients with heart failure from 7.9% to 9.5% over 1 year (2016-2017). Adoption-Institutional factors that supported the program included the acute need to support medically complex patients at the end of life and an engaged clinical champion. Implementation-Program implementation was supported by interdisciplinary teams who engaged in care coordination. Maintenance-The program has been maintained for over 3 years.
CONCLUSION: The cardiac home hospice program strengthened hospice clinicians' ability to confidently provide care for patients with heart failure, expanded awareness of their symptoms among clinicians, and was associated with increased enrollment of patients with heart failure over the study period. This RE-AIM evaluation provides lessons learned and strategies for future adoption, implementation, and maintenance of a cardiac home hospice program.
According to the World Health Organization, palliative care must be available for everyone with life-threatening diseases. However, in daily practice the primary focus worldwide is on cancer patients. The aim of the article was to generate a national position statement as the first step in implementing palliative care in severe heart disease with focus on advanced heart failure, including tools to identify the need for and timing of palliative care and how palliative care could be organized in Denmark. A task force was formed in the Danish Society of Cardiology Heart Failure Working Group, and the position statement was prepared in collaboration with members from a broad group of specialties, including palliative medicine. Because of major gaps in evidence, the position statement was based on small and low-quality studies and clinical practice statements. This position statement was aligned with the European Society of Cardiology recommendation, focusing on relieving suffering from the early disease stages parallel to standard care and supplementing life-prolonging treatment. The statement delivers practical guidance on clinical aspects and managing symptoms during the three stages of advanced heart disease. Furthermore, the statement describes the importance of communication and topics to be broached, including deactivating implantable cardioverter defibrillators. The statement recommends a targeted effort on organizational strategies using high-quality assessment tools and emphasizes multidisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration. Danish cardiologists supported by allied professionals acknowledge the importance of palliative care in advanced heart disease. This national position statement intended to inform and influence policy and practice and can hopefully inspire other countries to take action toward implementing palliative care in advanced heart disease.
Many cardiovascular diseases lead to heart failure, which is a progressive syndrome causing significant distress and limiting the quality of life, despite optimal cardiologic treatment. It is estimated that about 26 000 people in Poland suffer from advanced heart failure, and this number is growing. That is why palliative care (PC) dedicated to people living with end-stage cardiac diseases should be urgently implemented in Poland. Well-organized PC may not only relieve symptoms and improve quality of life in people living with cardiac diseases not responding to treatment but also support patients and their families during the dying process. Palliative care in patients with cardiac diseases should be continued during the end-of-life period. It should be implemented regardless of prognosis, and adjusted to patients’ needs. Two approaches to PC are presented in this expert opinion. The first one (generic) is provided by all medical professionals incorporating PC principles into the usual patient care. The second approach, namely, specialized PC, is ensured by a multiprofessional team or at least a PC specialist who received appropriate training in PC. The model of needs-based (not prognosis-based) implementation of PC is discussed in this paper. Symptom control, support in decision-making, and sensitive, open communication are considered integral elements of PC interventions. Medical professionals developing PC in Poland should think about groups of patients with special needs like those with valvular heart disease, grown-up congenital heart disease, and pulmonary arterial hypertension, as well as elderly people. This consensus document presents main recommendations for future PC organization in Poland. Among others, we suggest changing the Polish National Health Fund reimbursement rules regarding PC and improving cardiologist education on PC.
BACKGROUND: Despite improvements in palliative care for critically ill children, the characteristics of end-of-life care for pediatric patients with advanced heart disease are not well-known. We investigated these characteristics among hospitalized children with advanced heart disease in a tertiary referral center in Korea.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 136 patients with advanced heart disease who died in our pediatric department from January 2006 through December 2013.
RESULTS: The median age of patients at death was 10.0 months (range 1 day-28.3 years). The median duration of the final hospitalization was 16.5 days (range 1-690 days). Most patients (94.1%) died in the intensive care unit and had received mechanical ventilation (89.7%) and inotropic agents (91.2%) within 24 hours of death. The parents of 74 patients (54.4%) had an end-of-life care discussion with their physician, and the length of stay of these patients in the intensive care unit and in hospital was longer. Of the 90 patients who had been hospitalized for 7 days or more, the parents of 54 patients (60%) had a documented end-of-life care discussion. The time interval from the end-of-life care discussion to death was 3 days or less for 25 patients.
CONCLUSION: Children dying of advanced heart disease receive intensive treatment at the end of life. Discussions regarding end-of-life issues are often postponed until immediately prior to death. A pediatric palliative care program must be implemented to improve the quality of death in pediatric patients with heart disease.
In the last decades, new technologies have improved the survival of patients affected by chronic illnesses. Among them, left ventricular assist device (LVAD) has represented a viable solution for patients with advanced heart failure (HF). Even though the LVAD prolongs life expectancy, patients’ vulnerability generally increases during follow up and patients’ request for the device withdrawal might occur. Such a request raises some ethical concerns in that it directly hastens the patient’s death. Hence, in order to assess the ethical acceptability of LVAD withdrawal, we analyse and examine an ethical argument, widely adopted in the literature, that we call the “descriptive approach”, which consists in giving a definition of life-sustaining treatment to evaluate the ethical acceptability of treatment withdrawal. Focusing attention on LVAD, we show criticisms of this perspective. Finally, we assess every patient’s request of LVAD withdrawal through a prescriptive approach, which finds its roots in the criterion of proportionality.
The purpose of this article is to describe palliative care incorporation within the care of heart transplant patients. Palliative care is a holistic approach to care that includes symptom management and goal setting to improve patients’ quality of life. Palliative care is designed to be used with patients who have chronic illness that impacts quality of life and should be incorporated early in the disease. All providers have a responsibility to be knowledgeable in palliative care approaches and to know when to refer a patient for specialty palliative care services. This article will describe palliative care, research study findings, and current professional guideline recommendations for patients. The article also describes challenges and barriers to the use of palliative care in heart transplant patients and strategies to address these challenges and barriers.
We assessed the trend of palliative care (PC) referrals and its effect on hospitalization cost and length of stay (LOS) in ruptured aortic aneurysm (rAA). The Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 2005 to 2014 was used to identify admissions with age =50 and rAA. A total of 54 134 rAA admissions were identified and 5019 (9.3%) had PC referrals. During the study period, PC referral rate increased from 0.97% to 15.3% (P trend < .0001). Length of stay (1.7 vs 2.8 days, adjusted mean ratio [aMR] = 0.62, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.58-0.66), and cost (US$7778 vs US$13 575, aMR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.52-0.63) were significantly lower in rAA admissions that did not undergo interventions. In the percutaneous repair group, LOS was similar but the cost was higher (US$61 759 vs US$52 260, aMR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.05-1.30), whereas in surgical repair group, LOS was shorter (4.6 vs 5.9 days, aMR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.73-0.82) but the cost was higher (US$59 755 vs US$52 523, aMR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.02-1.28). Palliative care could shorten LOS and save hospitalization cost in rAA admissions not a candidate for repair. Further studies are required to investigate the variable effects of PC on rAA.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation of a patient with an uncertain resuscitation status, and a discharging implantable cardiac defibrillator, presents a significant ethical challenge to healthcare professionals in the emergency department. Presently, no literature discusses these challenges or their implications for ethical healthcare delivery. This report will discuss the issues that arose during the management of such a case and attempt to raise awareness among healthcare professionals to ensure better preparation for similar situations.
Futility denotes failure to achieve the projected outcome. We investigated the prevalence, predictors, and clinical risk model of transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI)-related futility. We included 464 consecutive patients undergoing TAVI from 2010 to 2017. Futility was defined as death and/or hospitalization for heart failure (HFH) within 1 year after TAVI. Of 464 patients (mean age: 84.4 years), 69% were females (EuroSCOREII: 6.3%; Society of Thoracic Surgeons [STS] score: 6.9%). Forty-six patients (9.9%) experienced TAVI-related futility, and 36 of 46 patients (69.6%) died within 1 year due to cardiac (37.5%) and non-cardiac (62.5%) causes. Previous HFH (hazard ratio [HR], 2.20; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.13–4.35, p = 0.020), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (HR, 3.39; 95% CI: 1.12–8.42, p = 0.033), and moderate/severe mitral or tricuspid regurgitation (HR, 2.98; 95% CI: 1.32–6.27, p = 0.010) were independent predictors of futility. With 1 point assigned to each predictor (total 0 point, futility low-risk; total 1 point, futility intermediate-risk; total 2–3 points, futility high-risk), the futility risk model clearly stratified individual futility risk into three groups (the freedom from futility at 1 year: 96.2%, 82.1%, and 67.9% each). Our futility risk model presented better discrimination than EuroSCOREII, and STS score (c-statistic: 0.73 vs. 0.68 vs. 0.67). Medical futility was recognized in 9.9% of patients undergoing TAVI. Previous HFH, COPD, and concomitant atrioventricular regurgitation were associated with futility. The risk model derived from three predictors showed good performance in predicting futility risk.
BACKGROUND: In Canada, cardiovascular disease is the second most common cause of death. A subset of these patients will require a cardiovascular implantable electronic device (CIED). An estimated 200 000 Canadians are living with a CIED. CIEDs can improve life and prevent premature death. However, when patients reach the end of their lives, they can pose a challenge. An example of which is a painful shock delivered from an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for an arrhythmia in a dying patient. Receiving a shock at the end of life (EOL) is unacceptable in an age when we aim to ease the suffering of the dying and allow for a comfortable death.
METHODS: As a quality standard of practice, all clinicians are expected to engage in EOL conversations in patients requiring CIED deactivation. Due to the potential discomfort of an ICD shock, specific conversations about deactivation of an ICD are encouraged. A process improvement approach was developed by our hospital that included an advance care planning simulation lab, electronic documentation and a standardized comfort measures order set that includes addressing the need for ICD deactivation at EOL.
RESULTS: EOL conversations are complex. Health care providers have been equally challenged to have conversations about ICD deactivation. Standardization of the process of ICD deactivation ensures an approach to EOL which respects the individuality of patients and promotes quality dying.
CONCLUSION: Our hospital is committed to assisting clinicians to provide quality care by improving conversations about EOL care. On the basis of a synthesis of existing literature, we describe the importance of and the ideal process for having EOL conversations in patients about ICD deactivation at the EOL.
Background: Although recent attention to palliative care for patients with cardiovascular diseases has been increasing, there are no specific recommendations on detailed palliative care practices. We proceed on a discussion of the appropriateness and applicability of potential quality indicators for acute cardiovascular diseases according to our previous systematic review.
Methods: We created a multidisciplinary panel of 20 team members and 7 external validation clinicians composed of clinical cardiologists, a nutritionist, a physiotherapist, a clinical psychologist, a critical and emergent care specialist, a catheterization specialist, a primary care specialist, a palliative care specialist, and nurses. After crafting potential indicators, we performed a Delphi rating, ranging from “1 = minimum” to “9 = maximum”. The criterion for the adoption of candidate indicators was set at a total mean score of seven or more. Finally, we subcategorized these indicators into several domains by using exploratory factor analysis.
Results: Sixteen of the panel members (80%) were men (age, 49.5 ± 13.7 years old). Among the initial 32 indicators, consensus was initially reached on total 23 indicators (71.8%), which were then summarized into 21 measures by selecting relatively feasible time variations. The major domains were “symptom palliation” and “supporting the decision-making process”. Factor analysis could not find optimal model. Narratively-developed seven sub-categories included “presence of palliative care team”, “patient-family relationship”, “multidisciplinary team approach”, “policy of approaching patients”, “symptom screening and management”, “presence of ethical review board”, “collecting and providing information for decision-maker”, and “determination of treatment strategy and the sharing of the care team’s decision”.
Conclusion: In this study we developed 21 quality indicators, which were categorized into 2 major domains and 7 sub-categories. These indicators might be useful for many healthcare providers in the initiation and enhancement of palliative care practices for acute cardiovascular diseases in Japan.
OBJECTIVE: To validate conceptual and operational definitions of Symptom control (1608) indicators for patients with cardiac diseases in palliative care.
METHOD: Definitions were established through a literature review and were validated by consensus among expert nurses. Two rounds of the Delphi method and a meeting with experts were carried out in order to validate the definitions for the indicators and for the magnitude of response for each indicator.
RESULTS: Conceptual and operational definitions for Symptom control (1608) indicators and for the magnitude of response for each indicator were validated.
CONCLUSIONS: All conceptual and operational definitions of 11 indicators of the nursing outcome Symptom control (1608) were validated by experts. Content and clinical validation studies remain necessary to verify the capacity of the indicators to measure the effectiveness of nursing interventions in clinical practice and research.
Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) are increasingly being used to treat end-stage heart failure. Despite the increased prevalence of these devices, there is a still a high 1-year mortality rate. The purpose of this integrative review was to systematically evaluate research studies that focused on the process and content of LVAD related end-of-life discussions. A literature search was conducted from earliest available date to November, 2017. A total of 59 citations were produced, 13 articles went under full review, and six studies remained for inclusion in this review. Patients and their caregivers experienced confusion and frustration regarding the end-of-life experiences and care related to disjointed care by their provider teams. Clinician experiences and opinions also suggested a controversy about deactivation of the LVAD at the end-of-life, and a divide regarding practices at the end-of-life. Research focused on system-level factors involved in end-of-life care for patients with an LVAD is needed.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care consultation (PCC) is recommended for older adults hospitalized with cardiopulmonary conditions, but frequently is reserved for patients with malignant conditions and those with advanced age.
OBJECTIVES: To compare age-adjusted PCC trends and the relationship between increasing age and PCC among older adults with cardiopulmonary and malignant conditions.
METHODS: Observational analysis of patients age = 65 years, stratified by age and cardiopulmonary (heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) vs. malignant (lung and gastrointestinal) conditions. Age-adjusted PCC trends over time and compound annual growth rates (CAGR) were compared.
RESULTS: Discharges with cardiopulmonary vs. malignant conditions were older, more likely to be female, and white. Relative to malignant conditions, discharges with cardiopulmonary conditions had lower age-adjusted PCC rates but higher CAGRS. Increasing age was associated with PCC in both groups but had a stronger effect among cardiopulmonary conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: Older adults with cardiopulmonary conditions experienced lower rates of PCC, but higher rates of growth over time relative to those with malignant conditions.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Advanced heart failure in children is characterized by dynamic clinical trajectories, uncertainty of prognosis, and intermittent need for difficult decision-making, often related to novel therapeutic interventions with uncertain impact on quality of life. This review will examine the current role of palliative care to support this unique population.
RECENT FINDINGS: Pediatric heart failure patients commonly die in ICUs with high burden of invasive therapies together with end of life care needs. In addition, several studies advocate for integration of palliative care early in disease trajectory, not only focused on end of life care. Many advocate for the core tenets of palliative care (symptom management, communication of prognosis, and advanced care planning) to be provided by the primary cardiology team, with consultation by pediatric palliative care specialists. There is also a consensus that palliative care training should be incorporated into pediatric advanced heart disease training programs.
SUMMARY: Palliative care is an important component of pediatric heart failure care. Research and quality improvement efforts are needed to determine the most effective palliative care interventions for children with advanced heart disease. Provision of palliative care is an essential component of training for pediatric heart failure and transplant specialists.
OBJECTIVES: Describe pediatric palliative care consult in children with heart disease; retrospectively apply Center to Advance Palliative Care criteria for pediatric palliative care consults; determine the impact of pediatric palliative care on end of life.
DESIGN: A retrospective single-center study.
SETTING: A 16-bed cardiac ICU in a university-affiliated tertiary care children's hospital.
PATIENTS: Children (0-21 yr old) with heart disease admitted to the cardiac ICU from January 2014 to June 2017.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Over 1,000 patients (n = 1, 389) were admitted to the cardiac ICU with 112 (8%) receiving a pediatric palliative care consultation. Patients who received a consult were different from those who did not. Patients who received pediatric palliative care were younger at first hospital admission (median 63 vs 239 d; p = 0.003), had a higher median number of complex chronic conditions at the end of first hospitalization (3 vs 1; p < 0.001), longer cumulative length of stay in the cardiac ICU (11 vs 2 d; p < 0.001) and hospital (60 vs 7 d; p < 0.001), and higher mortality rates (38% vs 3%; p < 0.001). When comparing location and modes of death, patients who received pediatric palliative care were more likely to die at home (24% vs 2%; p = 0.02) and had more comfort care at the end of life (36% vs 2%; p = 0.002) compared to those who did not. The Center to Advance Palliative Care guidelines identified 158 patients who were eligible for pediatric palliative care consultation; however, only 30 patients (19%) in our sample received a consult.
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric palliative care consult rarely occurred in the cardiac ICU. Patients who received a consult were medically complex and experienced high mortality. Comfort care at the end of life and death at home was more common when pediatric palliative care was consulted. Missed referrals were apparent when Center to Advance Palliative Care criteria were retrospectively applied.
The use of long-term and continuous intravenous inotropic support (CIIS) has increased over the past decade. Published evidence indicates that CIIS improves New York Heart Association functional class but does not impact survival. American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guidelines published in 2013 delineated indications for intravenous inotropic support. Long-term CIIS as palliative therapy (i.e., aim is symptomatic improvement in patients who are not appropriate for surgical therapies) in patients with ACC/AHA Stage D congestive heart failure (CHF) despite optimal medical treatment and device therapy was assigned a Class IIb recommendation (Level of Evidence B).