Measuring quality of life in advanced heart failure

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Patients with Stage D heart failure can benefit from palliative care consultation to help them manage unpleasant symptoms and improve quality of life. Although guidelines describe how to manage symptoms, very little direction is provided on how to evaluate the effectiveness of those interventions.

Recent findings

Numerous studies have used the measurement of symptoms, emotional distress, functional capacity and quality of life to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions in heart failure. There is limited evidence on the use of these instruments in heart failure palliative care. Four studies were identified that evaluate the effectiveness of palliative care consultation for patients with advanced heart failure. All four studies measured symptom severity, emotional distress, and quality of life. The application of appropriate instruments is discussed. Suggestions for scores that should trigger palliative care consultation are identified.

Summary

The routine administration of standardized instruments to measure symptom severity and quality of life may improve the assessment and management of patients with Stage D heart failure. Ongoing discussion and research is needed to determine if these instruments are the best tools to use with heart failure palliative care patients.

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