Am J Cardiol. 2021 Mar 5:S0002-9149(21)00199-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2021.02.024. Online ahead of print.
Prior studies have shown that the early inclusion of palliative care (PC) specialist is associated with better end-of-life experiences. The National Inpatient Sample Database was queried from 2012 to 2017 for relevant of ICD)-9 and -10 procedural and diagnostic codes to identify patients above 18 years with advanced heart failure (HF) admitted with cardiogenic shock (CS) requiring mechanical circulatory support (MCS). Baseline characteristics, utilization trends and invasive procedures and complications were compared among patients evaluated by PC and those who were not. There were 65,230 patients hospitalized for advanced HF complicated by CS requiring MCS, of these a PC consult was placed in in 9,200 patients (14.1%) and trended upward from 9.4 to 16.8%, between 2012 to 2017. The majority of patients, 46,615, (71.5%) from the total population died in hospital. In reference to patients who were discharged alive, PC consultation was associated with a lower incidence of invasive procedures such as mechanical ventilation, pacemaker implantation, defibrillator implantation, insertion of percutaneous feeding tubes and tracheostomies performed (p<0.05 for all) whereas complications such as major bleeding, septic shock, transfusion of any blood product were comparable between both cohorts (non-significant p value for all). On the other hand, in those patients who died in hospital PC was associated with a lower incidence of pacemaker implantation, defibrillator implantation and insertion of percutaneous feeding tubes (p<0.05 for all). Despite the high morbidity and mortality associated with advanced HF patients with CS requiring MCS, the overall prevalence of PC consultation is exceedingly low. When utilized, the incidence of invasive procedures was lower. This study highlights the underutilization of PC services in this patient population, precluding any perceived benefit in end-of-life experiences.