Giornale italiano di cardiologia (2006) | 1 Dec 2012
A Gavazzi, F Svanoni and R De Maria
The natural history of heart failure (HF) is characterized by a progressive decline in functional capacity, punctuated by acute heart destabilization episodes which contribute to a spiraling worsening course. Advanced HF affects one in four patients who are referred to the hospital for the syndrome and has an estimated yearly incidence of 12 000 new cases in Italy. Life expectancy is very limited, and in general less than 50% of advanced HF patients are alive at 1-2 years. Advanced HF patients show a high, not modifiable mortality, severe symptoms and impaired quality of life. Treatment goals should focus on the improvement of symptoms and quality of life, the aims of palliative care. Palliative consultations during hospital admissions reduce the number of interventions and procedures in the last stages of life, the length of stay in the intensive care unit and general ward. HF patients who receive home palliative care are more likely to die at home, in accordance with their expressed will. The research project RF-MAR-2007-67955 aims to analyze, through a prospective observational registry, the palliative care needs of HF patients in Italy, to answer the gaps in knowledge on symptom changes during the terminal stages of the disease, on the quality of communication between healthcare professionals, patients and their families and caregivers' needs.
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