Vol 78, No 4 (2020)
Expert opinion
Published online: 2020-04-24

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Palliative care for people living with cardiac disease

Piotr Z. Sobański, Grażyna Brzezińska Rajszys, Tomasz Grodzicki, Piotr Jakubów, Piotr Jankowski, Marcin Kurzyna, Jadwiga Nessler, Andrzej Przybylski, Anna Ratajska, Lidia Tomkiewicz Pająk, Izabella Uchmanowicz, Tomasz Pasierski
Kardiol Pol 2020;78(4):364-373.


ABSTRACT Many cardiovascular diseases lead to heart failure, which is a progressive syndrome causing significant distress and limiting the quality of life, despite optimal cardiologic treatment. It is estimated that about 26 000 people in Poland suffer from advanced heart failure, and this number is growing. That is why palliative care (PC) dedicated to people living with end‑stage cardiac diseases should be urgently implemented in Poland. Well‑organized PC may not only relieve symptoms and improve quality of life in people living with cardiac diseases not responding to treatment but also support patients and their families during the dying process. Palliative care in patients with cardiac diseases should be continued during the end-of-life period. It should be implemented regardless of prognosis, and adjusted to patients’ needs. Two approaches to PC are presented in this expert opinion. The first one (generic) is provided by all medical professionals incorporating PC principles into the usual patient care. The second approach, namely, specialized PC, is ensured by a multiprofessional team or at least a PC specialist who received appropriate training in PC. The model of needs-based (not prognosis-based) implementation of PC is discussed in this paper. Symptom control, support in decision-making, and sensitive, open communication are considered integral elements of PC interventions. Medical professionals developing PC in Poland should think about groups of patients with special needs like those with valvular heart disease, grown‑up congenital heart disease, and pulmonary arterial hypertension, as well as elderly people. This consensus document presents main recommendations for future PC organization in Poland. Among others, we suggest changing the Polish National Health Fund reimbursement rules regarding PC and improving cardiologist education on PC.

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Polish Heart Journal (Kardiologia Polska)