Heart failure patients are less likely to receive end of life care

23 June 2015        

Heart failure specialist nurses can help you with the challenge of heart failure

Heart failure patients are less likely to receive palliative care than people with terminal cancer, according to a report.

‘Triggers for Palliative Care’, a report published by Marie Curie, says that heart failure patients are currently less likely to receive palliative care than people with terminal cancer because the less predictable progression of heart failure makes it more challenging for clinicians to identify when a patient is approaching the end of their life.

We welcome Marie Curie’s report and call on the government and healthcare bodies to provide better training for healthcare professionals to identify heart failure patients approaching the end of their life and offer them a choice about their care, including where they wish to live their final weeks and days and to die.

Mike Hobday, our Director of Policy, said: “This report reinforces the evidence that heart failure patients are missing out on quality palliative care. We’ve known this for a long time and this must change.

“Our Caring Together programme in Scotland has shown that it is possible to identify patients with heart failure who are approaching the end of life phase of their illness and ensure they are given a choice about their end-of-life care.

“We want to see governments and healthcare bodies act now to provide better training for healthcare professionals to give them the confidence to identify patients with heart failure approaching the end of life and open up conversations with heart patients about their end-of-life-care.”

The BHF, Marie Curie and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are running a seven-year programme called Caring Together. It aims to improve the quality of, and access to, palliative care for any patients in the advanced stages of heart failure.

There are an estimated 550,000 people in the UK living with heart failure. There currently isn’t a cure for heart failure, where the heart muscle is permanently damaged, most commonly caused by a heart attack.