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Palliative Care and Heart Disease

Palliative care can be a big help to you and your loved ones if you have heart disease. Clinicians providing palliative care focus on easing your symptoms. You may experience:

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Pain 
  • Anxiety 
  • Nausea or bloating
  • Lack of appetite or weight loss
  • Depression
  • Spiritual distress

In addition to improving your comfort, they can help you make more informed care decisions. They can help you weigh your values, and go over the pros and cons of treatment options.

In this way, they support you as you think about having procedures or major surgery. An example would be whether to have surgery to get a left ventricular assist device, which helps the heart move blood through the body for patients with heart failure but can lead to other serious complications.

In fact, any procedure for your heart should be discussed with your care team using shared decision making. So it is important to discuss your treatment options with your health care professional in order to decide together what is best for you. These treatments may include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Defibrillators (for example, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, which monitors for a dangerous heart rhythm and can deliver a shock to correct it)
  • Heart valve replacement or repair
  • Heart artery bypass surgery
  • Circulatory support (help moving blood through the body)
  • Procedures to fix heart rhythm problems
  • Continuous IV medication (medicine given to the patient using a tube that delivers the dose to the body through the veins)

  • Last Edited 03/30/2018