Cardiac and circulatory problems: Edited by James BeattieThe comparative palliative care needs of those with heart failure and cancer patientsO'Leary, NormaAuthor Information Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co. Louth and Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, Co. Meath. HSE Northeast, Dublin, Ireland Correspondence to Norma O'Leary, MD, MRCPI, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Dochas Centre, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland Tel: +87 7720949; e-mail: [email protected] Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: December 2009 - Volume 3 - Issue 4 - p 241-246 doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e328332e808 Buy Metrics Abstract Purpose of review Patients with heart failure seem particularly suited to palliative care having needs that fall within the prototypical palliative care domains. Despite this there is still much debate as to who should respond to these needs and when. Recent findings Since the early 1990s many studies have been published outlining the unmet needs of patients with heart failure. However, there have been limitations to these studies and they have not guided professionals as to how to respond. More recently comparative studies using cancer as the reference have explored similarities and highlighted differences in need between heart failure and cancer patients. These studies are useful for informing future service development. Summary Patients with heart failure have variable needs and variable disease trajectories. A targeted response to these needs is required. Palliative triggers or transitions should be recognized by professionals caring for patients with heart failure. It is unlikely that either specialist palliative care or medical specialists working in isolation will be sufficiently experienced to respond to these needs. Research is required to determine the effectiveness of different collaborative approaches; heart failure specialist care aligned with palliative care consultancy or heart failure-oriented palliative care services. © 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.