Thoughts about death and perceived health status in elderly patients with heart failure

Anna Stroemberg*, Tiny Jaarsma

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim: To explore thoughts about death and perceived health status in elderly patients with heart failure during a 6 month period after a deterioration needing hospitalisation.

    Methods: A descriptive, mixed methods design was used. Health was measured with EuroQol-5D, thoughts about death with multiple choice and open questions. A total of 145 patients with New York Heart Association class II-IV heart failure, mean age 70 years, 70% males, were included.

    Results: During deterioration, 16% of the patients were afraid of dying and 4% had this fear very often. Fear of death did not change significantly during the 6 months after deterioration. Both during deterioration (r=0.26, P <0.01) and 6 months later (r=0.40, P <0.001), fear of death and anxiety/depression were correlated. Content analysis of the open question produced 5 categories: (1) Death as a natural part of life; (2) Death as a relief from symptoms and disability (3) Death as fearful (4) Arrangements for time after death (5) A wish for an extended life.

    Conclusion: Elderly patients with heart failure had a lot of thoughts about death. Higher levels of anxiety/depression were correlated to fear of death. Many expressed death as a natural relief from suffering, others were afraid of pain, loss of independence and dignity. (c) 2008 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of European Society of Cardiology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)608-613
    Number of pages6
    JournalEuropean Journal of Heart Failure
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2008


    • heart failure
    • mixed method
    • quality of life
    • prognosis
    • anxiety
    • palliative care
    • CARE
    • TRIAL
    • ILL

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