Overview: This article provides an overview and discussion for the symptom management in patients with heart failure eligible for palliative care.
Conclusion: In patients with heart failure, optimal treatment of severe and invalidating symptoms requires a multi-modal and multi-dimensional approach.
Burden symptom in advanced heart failure highly affects quality of life of both patients and caregivers, leading to severe functional limitation and social isolation. Symptoms in the advanced phases of the disease are numerous and often underestimated and undertreated. This negatively affects not only quality of life, but also increases hospitalizations, reduces therapeutic adherence, impairs cardiac function and leads to reduced survival. When symptom control cannot be achieved only with specific cardiologic therapy, optimal care should shift to a combination of life-prolonging and symptom-relief approach, possibly to be initiated as soon as advanced phases are detected. Optimal treatment of severe and invalidating symptoms requires a multi-modal and multi-dimensional approach, as pharmacological therapy represents only a part of a global evaluation that should include spiritual and psycho-social factors, potentially influencing symptom perception. Assessment therefore should rely on multi-modal and multi-dimensional patient-centered score models, such as the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ), or the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale (IPOS).Pain, dyspnea, depression, fatigue and less frequent but distressing symptoms, including gastrointestinal disorders (nausea, vomiting, fecal impaction, hiccups), cough, itching, skin xerosis and restless legs syndrome, will be analyzed, and evidence of best palliative practice will be discussed.