Heart Failure

Role of palliative care in the management of heart failure

Approximately 10,000 people in Ireland die from cardiovascular disease every year. Fatigue, breathlessness, depression and pain are common symptoms of heart failure. Studies show the burden of these symptoms is similar to that experienced by cancer patients yet these symptoms are not routinely identified or fully treated. In 2008 as part of the Palliative Care for All Programme, the Irish Hospice Foundation and the Health Service Executive published a report entitled Palliative Care for All: Integrating Palliative Care into Disease Management Frameworks. This report outlined the rationale and benefits of palliative care for people living and dying with illness such as heart failure. In response a number of disease-specific action research projects were initiated.

Action research project: Heart failure & palliative care

Research sites:  Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Connolly Hospital, St. Francis Hospice and Fairview General Practice, DublinHeart Failure Report The project ran from 2010-12 and was funded by the Irish Hospice Foundation, Irish Heart Foundation and Baxter International Foundation.  It aimed to devise, implement and evaluate appropriate palliative care responses for people with heart failure using an ‘action research’  or participatory research methodology. The care responses  developed have included patient and staff information leaflets, education seminars, e-learning modules and protocols supporting both palliative and heart failure medication. The project created new opportunities for collaboration between specialist groups and has resulted in practice changes, including the new practice of admitting patients with heart failure to the in-patient and home care service of St. Francis Hospice. The report on this project is available by clicking the picture to the left.

Posters & resources

The following resources were either developed or used by the project (Click to view): Developing best practice models of care for specialist palliative care in the heart failure setting     E-learning tool to assess the palliative care needs of heart failure patients     Heart failure and palliative care     Integration of Palliative care into heart failure mangement   Future plans include:
    • disseminating the project findings through policy and professional groups
    • supporting introduction of a palliative care approach to the management of  heart failure in all care settings
    • ensuring such an approach is part of the HSE's Clinical Care Programme for Heart Failure
The Irish Heart Foundation with the Irish Hospice Hospice Foundation have produced the following booklet about planning for the future with advanced heart failure: Heart failure leaflet

 Other Work / Information

  • Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland have launched a free on line learning resource that aims to support health and social care professionals in their management of people with cardiac disease.


Heart Failure & Palliative Care Seminar 2016

The Irish Hospice Foundation in collaboration with the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital,  held a seminar on September 2nd 2016 in the Fintan Gunne Theatre, Catherine McAuley Centre, Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin. The aim of the seminar was to highlight the role of palliative care for people with heart failure. The presentations from this seminar are […] Read more >

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