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End-of-Life Discussions in Patients With Heart Failure

      Highlights

      • The vast majority of patients hospitalized with acute decompensated heart failure say they have never discussed their wishes for end-of-life care with their doctor.
      • End-of-life discussions were not more common with patients with worse prognosis.
      • Patients who recall having discussions were more knowledgeable about end-of-life options and more likely to have completed an advance directive.

      Abstract

      Background

      Although guidelines call on clinicians to conduct regular conversations about advance care planning and end-of-life (EOL) preferences with patients with heart failure (HF), research suggests that physicians often avoid these discussions.

      Methods and Results

      From January 20, 2014, to January 18, 2016, Southeastern Minnesota residents hospitalized with acute decompensated HF (ADHF) at Mayo Clinic hospitals were enrolled into an observational cohort study that included the administration of face-to-face questionnaires. Risk of death (prognosis) was estimated using the Meta-analysis Global Group in Chronic Heart Failure score. Among 400 patients (mean age 77.7 years, 46% female, 48% preserved ejection fraction), only 69 (17%) reported previously discussing EOL wishes with their physician. Patients reporting EOL discussions more often had an advance directive (81% vs 66%; P = .009), recognized the term “hospice” (96% vs 87%; P = .027), and had more favorable attitudes of dying and hospice (P = .030). Resuscitation preferences and rates of completion of advance directives varied with prognosis, although patient-clinician EOL discussions did not.

      Conclusions

      The majority of patients hospitalized with ADHF did not recall discussing their preferences for EOL care with their physician. This represents an important modifiable gap in the optimal longitudinal care of HF patients.

      Key Words

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