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Integration of palliative care across the spectrum of heart failure care and therapies: considerations, contemporary data, and challenges.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Heart failure (HF) is characterized by significant symptoms, compromised quality of life, frequent hospital admissions, and high mortality, and is therefore well suited to palliative care (PC) intervention. This review elaborates the current PC needs of patients with HF across the spectrum of disease, including patients who undergo advanced HF surgical therapies, and reviews the current data and future directions for PC integration in HF care.

RECENT FINDINGS: Patients with chronic HF, as well as those who are being evaluated for or who have undergone advanced HF surgical therapies such as left ventricular assist device or heart transplantation, have a number of PC needs, including decision-making, symptoms and quality of life, caregiver support, and end-of-life care. Available data primarily supports the use of PC interventions in chronic HF to improve quality of life and symptoms. PC skills and teams may also help address preparedness planning, adverse events, and psychosocial barriers in patients who have had HF surgeries, but more data are needed to determine association with outcomes.

SUMMARY: Patients with HF have tremendous PC needs across the spectrum of disease. Despite this, more data are needed to determine the optimal timing and structure of PC interventions in patients with chronic HF, left ventricular assist device, and heart transplantation. Future steps must be taken in clinical, research, and policy domains in order to optimize care.

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