Heart Disease Criteria for Hospice Care

Would You Qualify for Hospice?

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A patient with heart disease would need to meet specific criteria to support a terminal prognosis and qualify for hospice care. A physician makes the decision whether heart disease has a terminal prognosis based on whether the patient is optimally treated with diuretics and vasodilators, whether they are having angina pectoris at rest that is resistant to standard nitrate therapy and whether they have symptoms of congestive heart failure while at rest and are classified as a New York Heart Associations Class IV.

The New York Heart Associations (NYHA) Class IV is defined as the following:
IV a – The patient is unable to carry on any physical activity without heart symptoms.
IV b – Symptoms are present even at rest.
IV c – If any physical activity is undertaken, symptoms are increased.

Other things your doctor will take into consideration in making a terminal diagnosis of heart disease are history of heart disease and any treatments such as arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), heart attacks, and the ejection fraction (the amount of blood the heart is able to pump). The doctor will also look for any coexisting diseases like HIV.

If the doctor determines that the patient meets the criteria for terminal prognosis, he may recommend palliative care. Palliative care can help minimize symptoms of heart disease that cause pain and discomfort, including chest pain, shortness of breath, edema(swelling), and anxiety.

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