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HealthInfo Canterbury

Advanced heart failure

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Heart failure can often be managed for many years using modern therapies. But if you have complications, or your heart is just getting weaker, the treatments may be less effective. You may develop symptoms that don’t disappear so quickly with treatment, and start to affect your day-to-day life.

Some of the things you may notice include:

If you have these symptoms, your heart failure may be becoming more advanced. Speak to your GP or specialist if you are worried or unsure.

Sometimes when heart failure becomes more advanced, you can't get any better. Then your treatment plan might focus on giving you a good quality of life, rather than saving your life at all costs. Some treatments may become less important, and others may be added to help control your symptoms. Usually the doctor will keep giving you heart failure medications as long as possible to help with symptoms. Other medications may be used to help with breathlessness, nausea, constipation and pain.

Talking about what comes next

It is helpful to have a discussion with your whānau/family about what is important to you, especially your future care needs. Things to consider include:

An advance care plan is a really helpful way to document all of these discussions. It is a plan that gives you a voice when you cannot communicate and it tells your family what you want to happen.

Getting extra help

Other community support is available. This may include:

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by GP Liaison, Cardiology. Last reviewed July 2020.

See also:

Advance care planning

Palliative care

Financial support in palliative care

Page reference: 117572

Review key: HIHFA-27478