Most patients with heart failure will die from the disease. Although doctors may be able to give you a rough idea of your prognosis, it is impossible to predict how long a patient with heart failure will live. This is a difficult topic, but knowing what to expect and having a plan in place will help to relieve anxiety.
What is an Advanced Directive?
An Advanced Directive is meant to guide others with respect to your wishes if you are unable to express them. Sometimes an advanced directive is referred to as a living will; however it typically does not deal with money or property. Advanced directives can address several issues, like whether you would like to be put on a breathing machine (ventilator), whether you’d like to receive dialysis or whether you’d like to donate organ(s) in the event of death. The document is also intended to provide clarity on your wishes in the event that your heart was to stop, or you were to stop breathing. For example, you may wish to express a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, which instructs doctors not to perform CPR or place a breathing tube if your heart stops, or you stop breathing.
These decisions are very personal, and it is recommended to you speak to your loved ones and have them involved when creating such a document. To create an advanced directive, speak to your doctor. You may also wish to contact a lawyer; however, this is not absolutely necessary.
It is important to establish an advanced directive before a health crisis occurs. When making an advanced directive, one should think about his/her personal beliefs and values, goals as well as religious, spiritual and cultural preferences.
Take Home Messages
- Most patients with heart failure will unfortunately die from the disease.
- End-of-life planning is a difficult but important topic to discuss.
- When approaching the end of one’s life, having an idea of what to expect and having a plan in place can relieve a lot of anxiety.
- Advanced Directives are meant to guide others with respect to your wishes in the event that you are not able to communicate them yourself.
- It is important to speak to your family or loved ones about your wishes.
- There are many resources available to help you with this difficult topic. Speak to your doctor for more information.