Heart disease for me is personal. I lost my father and one of my older brothers to it at relatively young ages.
So here is what I’ve learned about heart disease:
- It doesn’t play fair and doesn’t pick favorites. Roughly 600,000 people die of heart disease every year…that’s 25 % of all deaths.
- You can work to keep it at bay…but it’s a daily battle and you have to be prepared to fight it at multiple levels…what you eat, getting enough sleep, exercising daily and managing stress. It plays for keeps…so you have to also.
- It strikes when you least expect it…every year more than 900,000 Americans have a heart attack…more than 600,000 of those are first heart attacks and over 300,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. Forty seven percent of sudden cardiac deaths happen outside of a hospital…so people may not be identifying early warning signs.
- It’s very expensive to battle…we spend almost $109 billion each year on health care services, medications and lost productivity related to heart disease.
- People with advanced heart failure experience multiple symptoms that require frequent and ongoing assessment and evaluation.
- Planning ahead when advanced heart failure takes hold can ease the burden on families and bring clarity to next steps.
Everyone has a personal journey to complete when dealing with advanced heart failure. Talking through the available options with loved ones and answering the difficult questions surrounding how you want your care to be handled is important. Understanding what health decisions may have to be made in the future is paramount. Thinking through your goals and preferences matters.
Sharing what you’re thinking with your family is a critical step…and then documenting your plan in an Advance Directive will make it clear for everyone. Advance directives can be changed should your wishes change. Evaluating whether palliative care may be appropriate for you and your circumstances is important. Palliative care will focus on the quality of life while helping to relieve pain and begin a process of providing emotional and spiritual support for your family.
Ultimately discussing end of life care planning can be painful. While it is clear that you can’t control the timing of when you die…you can work with hospice to control aspects of the dying process. When the decision is made to focus on quality of life vs. quantity of life, hospice can play a key role in determining the path to take.
Hospice services can include:
- Medical and care and equipment to manage symptoms (the hospice clinical team is on call 24 hours a day to provide care)
- Psychosocial care to manage emotional and spiritual issues for the patient and family
- Respite care to provide a break for caregivers and families
- Certified Nursing aides to help with bathing, grooming, eating and other personal health needs
- Help with insurance, legal documents and other practical issues
- Assistance from trained volunteers who provide a variety of support services, such as caregiver relief, running errands and companionship.
- Bereavement support and counseling for caregivers and families
Quality end of life care for advanced heart failure patients can make a huge difference for the patient and the family. If you or a loved one is struggling to manage your heart disease, reach out to your local hospice and let them help with appropriate planning. Living with heart disease doesn’t have to be heartbreaking.
Halcyon Hospice can help you decide whether it’s time to consider hospice care, call us at 855-328-1700. We’re available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to discuss your concerns or options and provide you with the appropriate resources so you can make the right choices for you and your family.
Or, simply submit your information on our website Contact Form, indicate your preference for phone or e-mail contact, and click SUBMIT. We’ll take care of the rest.