Cardiac Care in Central Florida a Priority for VITAS Healthcare
If you suffer from an advanced heart disease, you’re not alone in your journey. The American Heart Association states that the number of U.S. deaths due to heart failure exceeds those due to lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV/AIDs combined, however, there are options and resources available for those impacted by heart disease. Palliative care (specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses, which focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress) and hospice care have been shown to relieve suffering, improve patient satisfaction and decrease costs for these patients. However only a small percentage of those in the end stages of a chronic disease are referred for palliative consultation, according to a report published in Circulation.
“Hospice and palliative care have the potential to improve quality of life for heart failure patients, family members and care providers,” write the authors of the report. “Yet, evidence suggests that these care options are not being used enough and when they are used, it is often too late in the course of the illness to make enough impact,” the researchers note.
That’s why the care of Central Florida patients with advanced heart disease is a top priority for VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s largest provider of end-of-life care. VITAS’ state-of-the-art cardiac care provides heart failure patients with exceptional support and its integrated approach, coupled with patient and family centered care, provides unique benefits to patients and families as well as providers, hospitals, health systems and the community.
ACC/AHA Guidelines Recommend Hospice Care
Heart failure is a difficult physical and emotional battle, which is why palliative/hospice care has been recommended for end-stage heart failure by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA).
The ACC/AHA guidelines recommend that physicians conduct early and ongoing discussions with patients and families concerning the following:
- A written statement of the patient’s wishes regarding medical treatment
- Palliative care and hospice care
- Prognosis for functionality and survival
- The option to deactivate an implantable cardiac defibrillator
- Treatment methods based on symptoms
“Even though a patient’s prognosis may be uncertain, communication is key,” urge the researchers. “Shared decision making for treatment among patients, families/caretakers and the medical team is an important component to a successful palliative approach.”
“End-stage heart failure has one of the largest effects on quality of life of any advanced disease,” the investigators point out. “But hospice helps patients and their loved ones deal with the tremendous physical, psychological and economic burdens that heart disease has on the entire family.”
VITAS’ Cardiac Program in Central Florida
In Central Florida, VITAS has invested substantial resources to develop a cardiac program where staff completes hours of heart failure specific education and training. As part of its innovative model, patients benefit at home from evidence-based cardiac care including therapies traditionally administered in the hospital setting.
The VITAS Central Florida interdisciplinary team of hospice caregivers, including cardiologists, physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers and chaplains, work closely with the patient’s long-standing cardiac team to continue any ongoing medication and treatments to ensure that every patient receives the quality, customized attention they deserve at the end of life.
Patients and families also continue to receive VITAS’ trademark end-of-life care with individualized care plans that address patients’ physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. Moreover, alternative treatments such as massage, pet and music further enhance a patient’s quality of life.
The cardiac program at VITAS reflects the company’s core values that patients and families come first, which translates into better care and outcomes including higher patient and family satisfaction, improved quality of life, and a dramatic reduction in hospital readmissions. More information is available at www.VITAS.com.
Source: “Palliative Care in the Treatment of Advanced Heart Failure,” Circulation; December 22/29, 2009; 120(25):2597-2606. Adler ED, Goldfinger JZ, Kalman J, Park ME, Meier DE; Oregon Health Sciences University, Cardiovascular Medicine, Portland, Oregon; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City.
Joseph Shega, M.D., is a Regional Medical Director at VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care. He is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine, and in geriatric medicine.