Ethical dilemmas in device treatment for advanced heart failure

Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2007 Dec;1(4):267-73. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e3282f317a1.


Purpose of the review: This review discusses the ethical issues raised by the increased use of devices to treat heart failure.

Recent findings: Recent guidelines and clinical trials describe the benefits of device therapy in advanced heart failure. Other studies and commentaries illustrate the potential for harm, both to the individual patient in the form of reduced quality of life and to society in the form of unbearable costs. Recent reports discuss the specific issues involved with deactivating different devices and document low rates of advanced care planning in relation to device management at the end of life.

Summary: More research, increased end-of-life education, renewed emphasis on advance directives, and a true multidisciplinary approach are needed to provide optimal care for heart failure patients in relation to device therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directives
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / ethics*
  • Ethics, Clinical
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Heart-Assist Devices / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Pacemaker, Artificial / ethics*
  • Resource Allocation / ethics