Palliative care can reduce readmission risk for heart failure patients, study shows


Palliative care, which focuses on pain relief and emotional support, can help reduce the risk of readmission among heart failure patients, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, examines data for more than 57,000 patients who had been hospitalized for heart failure at 124 Veterans Affairs medical centers between 2010 and 2015. About 1,400 patients received palliative care, focused on maximizing their quality of life, during their hospital stay for heart failure.

Researchers followed up with them about six months after they were discharged from the hospital. They found 31 percent of the patients in the palliative care group experienced repeated hospital readmissions, and 40 percent of patients who did not receive palliative care were repeatedly readmitted.

Also, only 2.8 percent of patients in the palliative care group required mechanical ventilation versus 5.4 percent of patients not in that group.

"There's a perception that [palliative care is] provided only at the very end of life, and that's not true," said James L. Rudolph, MD, study co-author and the director of the Center of Innovation in Geriatric Services at the Providence (R.I.) VA Medical Center. "Palliative care added to heart failure treatment plans, especially when a patient is hospitalized, can have a big impact on the patient and the entire health system."


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