Pulmonary hypertension (PH) can be associated with a high level of symptom burden from the disease as well as its treatment. Involvement of palliative care (PC) services may help facilitate discussion regarding goals of care, prognostic planning, and treatment options focused on improving quality of life (QOL).
PC is active total care of a patient whose disease is not fully responsive to curative therapies, with symptom control as the top priority. After a life-limiting diagnosis is made, health care teams and patients determine prognosis, whether cure is attainable or reasonable, what treatment options are available, risks and benefits of associated treatments, and how treatment or nontreatment will impact QOL and survival. QOL is often the focus of palliative interventions, with the goal to minimize symptoms and empower patients with accurate information to help affirm life and meet objectives of care.
PC can begin at the onset of symptoms in a disease that cannot be cured. Early PC may help facilitate discussion regarding goals of care when patient expectations are discordant with prognosis. While PC is a responsibility of all clinicians, subspecialist assistance can be helpful when a clinical decline occurs, in the setting of uncertainty, when patients are removed from the transplant list, or when long-term QOL issues are present.
Communication with patients who have PH can be delicate and requires an understanding of the disease's process, trajectory, and prognosis. PC teams possess communication skills that may benefit patients and providers with QOL optimization, delivery of difficult news, advanced care planning, and shared decision-making.