Background: Whether recognition and prompt response to worsening symptoms are worse in older compared with younger patients with heart failure (HF) is unclear. Objectives: The aims of this study were to compare older and younger patients (1) perceptions, evaluations, and responses to worsening HF symptoms, and (2) responses once worsening symptoms were perceived. Methods: A mixed-methods study was conducted and to compare data between older (≥ 65) and younger (< 65) in 185 patients hospitalized with HF. Results: There were few differences attributed to age. In response to higher perceived symptom distress, patients in both groups did nothing and hoped their symptoms would go away (p = 0.004), ignored symptoms and continued doing what they were doing (p = 0.002), or laid down to relax (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The majority of patients, regardless of age, did not recognize, interpret, and respond appropriately to HF symptoms. Interventions should be tested that target better symptom appraisal and promote appropriate symptom responses in patients with HF across all ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-647
Number of pages8
JournalHeart and Lung
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Heart failure
  • Mixed methods
  • Somatic awareness
  • Symptom experience
  • Symptom management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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