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What is Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Heart Disease

Who is it for?

Heart disease is a very common chronic health problem and there are many different types, such as coronary artery disease and heart failure.

What are some symptoms of heart disease?

Heart disease can cause symptoms su​ch as:

  • leg swelling
  • breathing problems (shortness of breath)
  • pain
  • sleep problems
  • problems with walking and getting around (mobility)

People may also have other chronic diseases with symptoms that overlap with the symptoms of heart disease.

What about devices for heart disease?

Cardiologists may talk to people about using devices for heart disease, like:

  • ventricular assist device (VAD)—to help the heart pump blood
  • pacemaker—to regulate heart rate and rhythm
  • defibrillator—which detects changes in heart rhythm and helps it beat normally using electric shocks

How can palliative and end-of-life care help people with heart disease?

Palliative and end-of-life care services works to manage symptoms so people are as comfortable as possible while getting treatment from their cardiologist.

If people have breathing problems (shortness of breath) or pain because of heart disease, medication called opioids (e.g., morphine) can help. Other medications can help with leg swelling, anxiety and sleep problems.

People and families may have to make hard decisions about cardiac devices. For example, a person with a defibrillator may need to decide when to have it removed if it doesn’t seem to be helping anymore. Palliative and end-of-life care can help with these types of decisions.​​​​​​

Palliative and end-of-life care can help to:

  • answer questions
  • manage symptoms
  • give emotional support
  • find other supports if people need to transition (e.g., go from home to hospital) for care