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AHA: Burden of Heart Failure Similar to Advanced Cancer

Findings highlight the need for palliative care for heart failure patients

FRIDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with heart failure experience a similar burden of symptoms and depression as patients with advanced cancer, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Conference in Baltimore.

David Bekelman, M.D., of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, and colleagues compared symptoms and patient-reported mental and spiritual well-being in 60 ambulatory patients with heart failure and 30 outpatients with advanced cancer. Assessments included the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-Short Form, the Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form, Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being Scale, and the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ).

There was no statistical difference between heart failure and cancer patients in symptoms, depression scores and spiritual well-being, the researchers report. Further analysis revealed that heart failure patients with lower health status (score 50 or lower on the KCCQ) had more symptoms, higher levels of depression, and lower spiritual well-being than the cancer patients.

"There has been a lot of attention on improving the quality of life and reducing suffering in cancer patients, but less on patients with heart failure," commented Bekelman. "Heart failure patients, particularly those with poor health status, need the option of palliative care."

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