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Palliative Care in Heart Failure - Essay Example

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Heart failure is the term used to describe the symptoms and signs which occur if the heart becomes less efficient at pumping blood around the body, either while you are resting or exercising". (2006a)
"In a normal healthy heart, during each heartbeat a set amount of blood returns to the heart and is pumped out again…
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Palliative Care in Heart Failure
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Download file to see previous pages In some cases there is only a slight reduction in the power of the ventricle, which causes mild symptoms. If the power of the pumping action is greatly reduced then more severe symptoms will result.
Diastolic dysfunction. This means that the left ventricle does not fill up with blood as much as it should when the heart rests between each heartbeat. This may be due to various factors. For example, the ventricle may not relax fully between each heartbeat, or the ventricle may be more 'stiff' and less easily stretched than it should be.
"Heart failure may be the result of damage to the heart muscle. The damage is most commonly caused by a heart attack, but sometimes it may be caused by excessive alcohol consumption or a virus infection. This may be referred to as 'cardiomyopathy.' Cardiomyopathy is a condition of the heart muscle where the cause is often not known". (2006c)
"Heart failure can also result from conditions which put an extra workload on the heart. The heart may have coped with this increased workload for many years before heart failure occurs. Problems which can cause an increased workload include": (2006c)
Heart failure is a common condition; estimates of prevalence range from 2to 10per 1000population, and the incidence is rising as more people survive acute coronary events 1. The median survival for heart failure (16months after first hospital admission, unadjusted) is worse than for many of the common cancers 2. Despite this poor outlook, those who die of the condition in the United Kingdom seldom access specialist palliative care services, and responsibility for their care lies with primary care, cardiology, geriatrics, or general medicine. Palliative medicine grew out of the hospice movement, and cancer charities still make a substantial contribution to the costs of palliative care. This, coupled with professional doubts over the wisdom of expansion, means that specialist care of the dying is virtually synonymous with cancer care in the United Kingdom 3.

Palliative Care

"Simply stated, palliative care is support and comfort for individuals and families living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses". (2006f) It can also be referred to as "Active total care offered to patients with progressive disease and their families when it is recognized that the illness is no longer curable, in order to concentrate on the quality of life and the alleviation of distressing symptoms in the framework of a coordinated service. The focus of Palliative Care is neither to hasten nor postpone death. It provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms and integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of care. Furthermore, it offers a support system to help relatives and friends cope during the patient's illness and bereavement" (2006h).

Palliative care focuses on:
Relieving pain and other uncomfortable symptoms
Helping families and friends involved in caregiving
Planning for chronic care and facing the end of life for patients with Cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease and heart failure". (2006f)

Heart Failure with respect to Palliative Care

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