Patients with heart failure who die in hospice

Cheryl Hoyt Zambroski, Debra K. Moser, Lynn P. Roser, Seongkum Heo, Misook L. Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with end-stage heart failure experience disability, dyspnea, pain, and suffering at the end of life despite progress in treatment approaches. Little is known about the patients with heart failure in hospice and the impact of hospice care on health-related outcomes. Methods and Results: The purposes of this retrospective, descriptive chart review were to (1) describe the characteristics of patients who receive hospice care, (2) identify symptoms most commonly reported by patients with heart failure in hospice during the last 7 days of life, and (3) identify interventions used by hospice nurses to manage the symptoms. The majority of the patients were women, widowed, and white. Median length of stay was 10 days. Nearly 37% of the patients were admitted to hospice during the last week of life. Primary symptoms at admission for hospice care included dyspnea, confusion at least some of the time, and poor appetite. There was no statistically significant difference in symptoms between the day of admission for hospice care and the day of death. Symptom management strategies included oxygen, family reassurance or education, skin care, and patient education. Medications commonly used to relieve symptoms included antianxiety medications, morphine, and/or other narcotics. Although mainstay heart failure drugs had been prescribed for some patients, prescription rates were low and not in line with current guideline recommendations, nor were those medications recorded as being used for symptom management. Conclusion: Further research including prospective study is needed to clearly articulate the impact of hospice care on patients and families affected by heart failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-564
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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