Task force convened to improve care to millions with heart failure

Dr David Oliver is the EAPC Board representative and Co-chair of a new task force that is a joint project between the European Association for Palliative Care and the Heart Failure Association of the European Society for Cardiology. Here, Dr Oliver gives an update on behalf of the task force following a recent meeting in Basel, Switzerland.

Dr David Oliver

Dr David Oliver

Heart disease kills four million people every year in Europe. The needs of people with heart failure and their families are often great and associated with other co-morbidities, such as respiratory disease or frailty of old age. Palliative care has a great deal to offer these people in alleviating their needs – physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

The recently established EAPC/HFA Task Force on Heart Failure met for an intensive day on 21st September to look at the work over the coming year. This group works in collaboration with the Heart Failure Association (HFA) and representatives from both organisations attended the meeting, held at the Palliativzentrum Hildegard  in Basel, Switzerland. The task force is chaired by Dr Piotr Sobanski of Hildegard Palliative Centre and co-chaired by Dr Jillian Riley, representing the Heart Failure Association Board, and Dr David Oliver of the EAPC Board.

There has been increasing interest in the provision of palliative care for people with heart disease, especially those with heart failure. Several reports have been published and palliative care is included in the HFA’s Guidelines – a new version is being revised at present and due in May 2016. However, participants at the meeting felt that there was more work to be undertaken and that this collaboration would allow further progress, for the benefit of people with heart failure.

EAPC/HFA Task force meeting in Basel: Left to right: Piotr Sobanski, James Beattie, Jillian Riley, Miriam Johnson, Manuel Martinez-Selles, Louise Bellersen and Margorzata Krajnik

EAPC/HFA Task Force meeting in Basel: Left to right: Piotr Sobanski, James Beattie, Jillian Riley, Miriam Johnson, Manuel Martinez-Selles, Louise Bellersen and Margorzata Krajnik

Over the coming months, the task force will be looking at a new position statement on heart failure – with increased collaboration between the two organisations, together with specific tasks looking at updating information for patients and families. There was an appreciation that there is a need for increased education and training – of both palliative care professionals and those within cardiology, so that there is greater mutual awareness of the issues for patients and families.

This is a start to a new task force and new developments in the area of cardiology. Dr Jillian Riley, from the Heart Failure Association Board, and co-chair of the task force spoke of the meeting:

“This has been a productive day with a clear plan for the coming year. This is an opportunity to work together for the benefit of patients and families facing the progression of heart failure, with many difficult symptoms and issues.”

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