Study Finds Similarities in Suffering Between Heart Failure, Advanced Cancer Patients

by VR Sreeraman on  May 4, 2008 at 11:10 AM Research News
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Study Finds Similarities in Suffering Between Heart Failure, Advanced Cancer Patients
A new research states that heart failure outpatients and patients with advanced lung and pancreatic cancer have similar number of symptoms and levels of depression and spiritual well-being.

The study by researchers from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine also found that heart failure patients with "poor" health status had greater symptoms and depression, as well as worse spiritual well-being than patients with advanced cancer.

In the study, the researchers compared 60 ambulatory heart failure patients with 30 outpatients with advanced cancer.

"There has been a lot of attention on improving the quality of life and reducing suffering in cancer patients, but less on patients with heart failure. Heart failure patients, particularly those with poor health status, need the option of palliative care," said David Bekelman, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study.

Palliative care is the care devoted to improving quality of life and reducing suffering for patients with severe, life-threatening illnesses and their families and is usually used for helping advanced cancer patients.

In chronic heart failure, the rate of disease and death are high, with the average survival of 1.6 years after a hospitalization. It can have a major impact on a patient's health status, contributing to symptom burden, functional limitations, and in turn depression, researchers said.

For their study, the scientists made use of the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-Short Form to assess symptom burden; Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form for depression; Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being Scale for spiritual well-being; and Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ) for heart failure severity.

They failed to find any statistical difference among heart failure and cancer patients in measured physical symptoms, depression scores and spiritual well-being. The study also compared the same three parameters in heart failure patients with different ejection fractions.

Ejection fraction is a common measure of heart function. It was observed that symptoms, depression and spiritual well-being were similar among heart failure patients with ejection fractions above and below 30, this implies that while ejection fraction is a useful marker of heart failure severity, it did not correlate with quality of life domains.

Even after adjusting for age, gender, marital status, education and income, it was found that heart failure patients with worse health status had a statistically greater number of physical symptoms, higher depression scores and lower spiritual well-being than the cancer patients.

"The main finding was that patients with heart failure have a similar burden of symptoms, depression and low levels of spiritual well-being as advanced cancer patients," said Bekelman, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

The study was reported at the American Heart Association's 9th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.

Source: ANI

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