Paving a Better Path for Patients Dying of Heart Disease
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The state of medical care at the end of life in the United States was recently highlighted in the Institute of Medicine’s report titled Dying in America.1 However, this report focused mostly on cancer and did not address specific challenges faced by patients with heart disease, which continues to be the most common cause of death in the United States. This significant omission occurred because most research on end-of-life care has been conducted on cancer patients, and most care models, including hospice, have been designed to optimize care for that population. Therefore, unsurprisingly, patients with cancer continue to be overrepresented in hospice, whereas patients with heart disease are underrepresented (Figure).
Advances in modern medicine have helped patients with cardiovascular disease live better and longer, but many suffer disproportionately when …