End-Stage Cardiac Disease: What to Expect?
Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. In fact, 1 in every 3 deaths in the United States listed cardiovascular disease as a factor.
A heart attack occurs when blood stops flowing to an area of the heart. In most instances, this is an acute event requiring immediate emergency medical treatment.
This differs from heart failure, a chronic condition caused by a weak heart’s inability to pump enough oxygen-rich blood through the body. In its early stages, heart failure can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. However, as the disease progresses, these treatments will become less effective.
What are the symptoms of heart failure?
Heart failure symptoms in a patient with end-stage cardiac disease include:
Dyspnea/Shortness of breath – In its early stages, heart failure can cause shortness of breath after exercise. As the disease progresses, patients may have trouble breathing even when they’re at rest.
Accelerated heartbeat – When the heart can’t move blood through the body efficiently, it tries to compensate by beating faster.
Coughing and wheezing – Fluid congestion in lungs can cause patients to cough or wheeze, particularly when lying down. This may be a dry cough or it may be mucus tinged with blood.
Sleep disruptions – Breathing difficulties lead to sleep difficulties. Patients with heart failure may find it difficult to catch their breath while lying down or they might wake up in the middle of the night, gasping for air.
Fatigue – Difficulty sleeping and difficulty in getting enough oxygen cause extreme fatigue in heart failure patients.
Loss of appetite – As patients reach the end stage of heart failure, they will often lose interest in eating.
Fluid buildup – As the heart slows, fluid builds up in different parts of the body. The lungs become congested. Legs, ankles, and feet swell. The patient’s stomach may also swell from fluid retention. Patients may also find themselves needed to use the bathroom more often as the body tries to rid itself of the excess fluid.
Confusion – As heart failure progresses, the change in sodium levels can lead to confusion, memory loss and a feeling of disorientation.
How Hospice Care Can Help
When a patient is experiencing end-stage cardiac disease, hospice care can help manage their symptoms so they can avoid late-night trips to the emergency room and hospital admissions.
Once a patient begins hospice care, Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care will provide all medication, medical equipment, and medical supplies related to the patient’s primary diagnosis at no cost to the patient or their family. This includes hospital beds that allow the patient’s head to be raised to help ease their cough and oxygen equipment to ease their breathing.
As the patient’s disease progresses, our team will work with the family to keep the patient comfortable and free of pain.
To learn more about how Crossroads supports patients with end-stage heart failure, please call 1-888-564-3405.
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