The personal experience of living with chronic heart failure: a qualitative meta-synthesis of the literature: M Olano-Lizarraga et al.

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Abstract

Aims and objectives

To determine, from a systematic literature review, the experience of living with heart failure and to propose some practice guidelines and research questions.

Background

Chronic heart failure has been one of the fastest growing illnesses in recent decades, with almost 23 million people affected worldwide. This complex syndrome has multiple causes and appears when underlying heart disease is advanced. Currently, heart failure has no cure and leads to a significant deterioration in patients’ quality of life.

Design

Qualitative meta-synthesis.

Methods

A qualitative meta-synthesis was conducted to extract and analyse qualitative research from the Cochrane, PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science and Cuiden databases. Snowball sampling and a manual search were performed to identify other relevant studies.

Results

Twenty-five qualitative studies were selected. The findings indicate that there are three main themes that describe the phenomenon. The first theme refers to the experiences related to the beginning of the process. The second theme is connected with the effects on the person: physical, emotional, social and spiritual changes. The third theme is linked with how to live with heart failure despite the illness, including the adjustment and coping process and how external resources can help them to manage.

Conclusions

Heart failure has a major impact on the entire person, but some areas have not been addressed. By creating new tools to understand and evaluate the impact of this illness and interventions that prevent or improve some situations, we can promote the well-being and the quality of life of this population.

Relevance to clinical practice

Nurses must have a personal knowledge of the experiences and needs of the patients. To do this, nurses should create care environments that promote an exchange of experiences and knowledge between the nurse and the patient and family.

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