CONTEXT: Recognition of dying is a difficult task in end-stage heart failure, yet it remains an important clinical skill in providing good palliative care to these patients.
OBJECTIVES: To use routinely collected data to explore evidence for physiological change in the final two weeks of life in end-stage heart failure.
METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of routinely collected data from hospital inpatients dying as a result of heart failure during a one-year period in a U.K. hospital. Data were analyzed using descriptive techniques and multilevel modeling.
RESULTS: Results were obtained on 81 patients. Respiratory function (evidenced by falling oxygen saturation and rising respiratory rate) deteriorated by a clinically significant amount in the final two weeks of life (P < 0.001). Renal function (evidenced by rising serum urea and creatinine) also demonstrated a clinically significant deterioration over the same period (P < 0.001 and P = 0.005, respectively). Serum albumin fell over a period of months (P < 0.001). Heart rate and blood pressure did not demonstrate clinically significant change over the same period.
CONCLUSIONS: Deteriorating respiratory and renal function may indicate imminent dying in heart failure. A fall in serum albumin may signify poor prognosis over a timescale of weeks to months. Conversely, hemodynamic parameters may remain relatively stable in the final days of life and should not be reassuring in end-stage heart failure patients.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Journal of pain and symptom management|
|Publication status||Published - May 2018|
- Terminal care
- clinical decisions
- heart failure