Hospice for Heart Failure Patients


Having a cardiac disease at the end of life, like end-stage heart failure, can result in more hospitalizations and a lower quality of life. In advanced stages, they become less responsive to treatments and cause pain, breathlessness and fatigue.

Amedisys hospice caregivers work to keep patients where they most want to be - at home, and out of the hospital, while keeping them as comfortable as possible, surrounded by the people that matter the most.

What is End-Stage Heart Failure?

Congestive heart failure is a long-term condition where the heart can no longer pump blood well enough to support the body. Symptoms of heart failure can include unexpected weight gain, increasing tiredness, frequent coughing, swelling in feet, legs or stomach caused by water retention and shortness of breath.

Is hospice the answer for you or a loved one? Complete our brief form to speak to a specialist.

*If you are a current Amedisys patient, please contact your Care Center directly.

Accompanying conditions like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, history or smoking and obesity can increase the risk for developing heart failure.

End-stage heart failure is the final stage of the disease’s progression in which symptoms often don’t improve with treatment and are present even at rest.

What are the Symptoms of Stage 4, or End-Stage, Heart Failure?

End-stage heart failure patients experience the symptoms of heart failure more frequently and more severely, regardless of any physical exertions. These include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Persistent cough or wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Limited physical activity
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Swelling caused by fluid build-up.

In addition to the physical symptoms, patients with end-stage heart failure may have emotional pain like depression or anxiety.

How Hospice Cares for End-Stage Heart Failure Patients

While medical treatments have little to no effect on symptoms for end-stage heart failure patients, the interdisciplinary hospice team helps patients and their families manage the disease at home as best as possible.

Hospice helps patients by:

  • Improving patient comfort and enhancing quality of life through effective management of symptoms.
  • Reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with uncontrolled symptoms.
  • Providing education and support to increase the patient’s and family’s confidence in understanding disease progression and effective symptom management at home.

The team accomplishes this by:

  • Conducting routine visits from clinicians trained in caring for patients with advanced cardiac disease.
  • Continually assessing patient status and communicating changes to the family and doctor.
  • Administering medications and support within the home to prevent or address flare-ups and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.
  • Providing psychosocial, emotional and spiritual support to mitigate distress and anxiety.
  • Educating and training families and caregivers to reinforce competence and confidence in effectively managing patients’ symptoms at home.

Amedisys’ Cardiac and Pulmonary Connections Program

Many of our hospice care centers offer a more formalized program to care for patients with advanced cardiac or pulmonary conditions. This program follows evidence-based guidelines and best practices to keep patients as comfortable as possible where they most want to be.

This program features:

  • Advanced Training and Education

    The interdisciplinary hospice team at these care centers have advanced, discipline-specific training on symptom management, patient education and family support for patients with cardiac and pulmonary disease. The goal is to empower patients and families with teaching tools and materials to be active participants in the symptom management process.

  • Program Interventions

    Caregivers help manage symptoms with non-medication interventions like breathing techniques, guided imagery and music therapy and pharmacologic interventions, vetted through evidence-based research, to ease symptoms and provide relief from distress associated with these diseases.

  • Advanced Practice Clinicians

    Care centers with this program offer an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) to perform a comprehensive assessment within 72 hours of admission or referral to the program and then at least monthly visits for goals of care discussions, disease education and discipline-specific symptom management.

    Respiratory therapists are also available, as needed, for expertise in managing symptoms like shortness of breath and minimizing associated anxiety.

  • Eligibility for Program

    To be eligible for the Cardiac and Pulmonary Connections Program, patients must meet general hospice eligibility requirements and have a terminal or co-morbid diagnosis of a cardiac and/or pulmonary disease to participate in this program.

Is Hospice the Answer?

Wherever you are in your journey of discovering whether it’s time to begin the conversation on hospice with your family, Amedisys is here to help with these tools:

If you’re ready to speak to a hospice specialist, please complete the form at the bottom of this page or visit our location directory to find a care center near you. 

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