February is Heart Month: Heart Failure is a Serious Diagnosis, You Don’t Have to Face It Alone
By Kathleen Kashow, VITAS Healthcare // February 7, 2021
one in four U.S. deaths caused by heart disease
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – February is Heart Month, and while many Americans learn about heart disease throughout the month, some will receive a crash course in the form of a diagnosis.
A diagnosis of congestive heart failure—or any end-stage heart disease—can be emotionally crippling, both for a patient and family.
But the fact that one in four U.S. deaths are caused by heart disease means hospice and palliative care providers have had plenty of experience tailoring end-of-life care to cardiac patients.
VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of hospice care, has offered their expertise for over 40 years to patients living with advanced heart disease—the second leading diagnosis for hospice care.
VITAS has developed advanced cardiac care techniques and protocols to ensure patients maintain dignity and comfort in their final months, weeks, and days.
Hospice-eligible patients who choose VITAS can expect comprehensive treatment aimed at improving quality of life, including emotional and spiritual support from an interdisciplinary team comprising a nurse, chaplain, hospice aide, doctor, social worker, and bereavement specialist.
Care occurs wherever the patient calls home: in a house or apartment, nursing home, assisted living facility or, if necessary, the VITAS Inpatient Hospice Center at Rockledge.
In its final stages, heart failure is often unpredictable, making it hard to determine whether symptoms are a byproduct of the disease or another condition, such as aging.
VITAS specialists in pain and symptom management can help, ensuring patients are able to enjoy life and remain in control of day-to-day decisions for as long as possible.
Hospice patients and their families often face tough choices about implantable defibrillators, resuscitation, assisted breathing, and artificial nutrition/hydration. VITAS can explain these decisions and guide patients and families through the process to document their wishes legally.
If you have a loved one who’s grappling with a heart disease or end-stage heart failure diagnosis, you’re not powerless to help. If your schedule permits, you could act as a family caregiver and assist hospice professionals as they care for your loved one.
VITAS offers caregiver education and training to interested family members, ensuring that they can provide care while maintaining their mental and emotional health.
VITAS can also provide up to five days of respite care, enabling caregivers to take a break and tend to their own needs.
Heart failure is a serious diagnosis, but it doesn’t need to be addressed alone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen Kashow is general manager for VITAS in Brevard County, Florida. For more information about end-of-life care options, call VITAS Healthcare at 321.339.2893 or visit VITAS.com
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