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Many heart-failure patients would rather not be revived

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1999 - Winter


Nearly one-quarter of all patients hospitalized for severe congestive heart failure say they do not wish to be resuscitated if their hearts stop beating, according to a study authored by Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D., associate professor of medicine and epidemiology, in the Aug. 18 issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association. Another 69 percent definitely wanted resuscitation and 8 percent were uncertain. Patients who perceived that they would live less than two more months were the most likely to reject the prospect of resuscitation, researchers found. Patients who were older, wealthier and less able to take care of their own basic needs in the two weeks before hospitalization also were more likely to reject resuscitation. The study, Dr. Krumholz says, points up the need for discussions of end-of-life care. “We, as a profession, need to develop approaches so we can talk about these issues without extinguishing hope,” says Dr. Krumholz. “In many cases these discussions are not happening.”
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