Hospice Cardiac Pathways Program

Navigating the intricate journey of cardiac health can pose physical and emotional challenges. At Honor Hospice, we recognize that there comes a time when curative treatments may not be the most appropriate course of action. That’s where our Hospice Cardiac Pathways Program comes into play.

Our dedicated program is uniquely tailored to offer guidance and assistance to individuals and families when the transition to hospice care is the best decision. As cardiac conditions progress, patients and their loved ones encounter a range of physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. Our specialized care addresses these complexities and provides support every step of the way.

Challenges of Heart Disease

Physical Challenges with Heart Disease

As the heart becomes weaker, its ability to pump blood effectively is compromised, leading to symptoms such as severe fatigue, shortness of breath even at rest, persistent coughing, fluid retention causing swelling in the legs, ankles, or abdomen, and difficulty performing daily activities like bathing, dressing, using the restroom, and even moving. 

Emotional and Psychosocial Challenges with Heart Disease

End stage heart disease often eventually requires frequent medical appointments, frequent hospitalizations and intensive medical interventions. This can significantly in turn disrupt a patient’s sense of control and well-being.

End-stage heart disease brings forth a wave of emotional and psychosocial challenges. The weight of uncertainty, the limitations on physical activity, and the awareness of life’s fragility can lead to anxiety and depression. Coping with the shifting dynamics of relationships, including dependence on caregivers, can also evoke complex emotions. Patients and their families often grapple with anticipatory grief and the need to make tough decisions. At this pivotal stage, addressing these emotional and psychosocial challenges with empathy, support, and counseling is crucial, offering solace and guidance during this intricate journey.

Spiritual Challenges with Heart Disease

End-stage heart disease often brings about profound spiritual challenges for individuals and their families. Facing mortality and grappling with the uncertainty of the future can prompt deep spiritual introspection. Questions about the meaning of life, suffering, and the search for solace and purpose may become more pronounced. Patients and their loved ones may find themselves seeking spiritual guidance, exploring their beliefs, or reevaluating their values. Coping with the emotional and physical toll of the disease can also test one’s faith and resilience.

How the Hospice Cardiac Pathways Program Can Help

The Hospice Cardiac Pathways Program delivers invaluable assistance to individuals confronting cardiac issues along with their families during challenging times. The highly skilled team at Honor Hospice is proficient in effectively managing pain and other distressing symptoms frequently encountered by both cardiac patients and their caregivers.


The Hospice Cardiac Pathways Program includes:

    Pain & Symptom Management

    Our interdisciplinary team creates a specialized care plan to manage common symptoms experienced by those with end stage heart disease which may include shortness of breath, coughing, edema/swelling, weakness and fatigue, pain, cognitive decline, sleep disturbance, agitation, and decreased nutrition and weight loss. 

    Not only is our team trained to assist you in navigating your cardiac journey, but we utilize evidence-based practice to anticipate changes and proactively plan to manage these symptoms to ensure comfort for our cardiac patients.


    Skilled Nursing Care

    Hospice care includes skilled nursing services provided by specially-trained hospice nurses who have expertise in managing the complexities that arise when living with cardiac conditions. These skilled nurses assess and monitor the patient’s condition, provide anticipatory guidance based on disease progression, educate the patient along with the caregivers, manage medications, provide wound care when needed, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive care.

    Personal Assistance & Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

    Hospice aides, also known as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), are an integral part of the hospice team. They provide hands-on assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting. For individuals with heart disease and congestive heart failure who may experience shortness of breath, easy fatigue, chest pain, and physical limitations due to disease progression, nurse aides help maintain personal hygiene, promote comfort, and preserve dignity.

    Emotional & Psychosocial Support

    Hospice care extends support not only to patients but also to their families and caregivers. Helping a loved one with end-stage heart disease can be challenging. Social workers and counselors are available to provide emotional support, counseling, and resources to cope with the challenges that arise during this difficult time. 

    Spiritual & Emotional Support

    Hospice care acknowledges the importance of spiritual and emotional well-being during end-of-life care. Chaplains or spiritual counselors are available to provide spiritual support, and bereavement services are offered to help families cope with grief and loss after the passing of a loved one. Our chaplains can coordinate visits and calls from a patient’s local clergy as well.

    Medication Coverage

    Hospice fully covers medications related to the terminal illness to assist in providing peace and comfort. This ensures that patients have access to the resources they need to maintain comfort and improve their quality of life.

    Supplies for Daily Care

    Hospice provides disposable supplies including items like adult briefs, incontinence pads, personal hygiene wipes, gloves, wound care supplies, and mouth moisturizers.

    Medical Equipment

    All durable medical equipment related to the terminal condition is fully covered under the hospice benefit. With heart conditions, this may include a wide range of supplies including items like oxygen concentrators, oxygen tanks, electric hospital beds, wheelchair or other mobility aides, shower chair, or additional items determined to be necessary by agreement of the hospice team, patient, and caregivers.

    24/7 Availability

    Hospice care offers round-the-clock access to the hospice team, providing peace of mind for patients and their families. This availability ensures that assistance is available whenever it is needed, even outside regular office hours.

    The main focus of the Hospice Cardiac Pathways Program is to provide personalized support that meets the needs of both the patient and their caregivers. We understand the unique challenges faced by those with heart disease. We strive to provide a comforting and supporting environment where patients can maintain their dignity and receive the comfort they deserve. Using evidence-based practices, our team works to address the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of those we serve.

    Hospice Eligibility Guidelines for Heart Disease and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

    We understand that navigating the complexities of hospice care can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with heart disease and congestive heart failure. This page aims to provide you with a comprehensive guide to the eligibility guidelines for hospice care specifically designed for individuals facing congestive heart failure and end-stage heart disease.

    End-Stage Heart Disease diagnoses may include but are not limited to:

    • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
    • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
    • Cardiomyopathy
    • Valvular Heart Disease

    Disease Specific Guidelines

    Patients who meet the following criteria will be deemed to be in the terminal stage of heart disease, with a life expectancy of six months or less if the illness runs its course. These criteria apply to patients with different forms of heart disease or CHF who ultimately follow a final common pathway for end-stage disease. The patient should show numbers 1 &2 while number 3 will serve to add supporting documentation.

    1. The patient is or has been already optimally treated for heart disease (use of vasodilators/ace inhibitors and/or diuretic use) or is not a candidate for surgical intervention (or has declined a procedure).
    2. The patient is categorized as New York Heart Association (NYHA) class IV (Shortness of breath or other symptoms at rest or with minimal effort. Inability to carry out physical activity without shortness of breath and/or other symptoms. Increased symptoms with any level of physical activity). CHF may be documented with an ejection fraction of ≤ 20% but if not already available is not required.
    3. Documentation of the following will be supportive but not required to establish hospice eligibility:
      1. History of cardiac arrest or resuscitation
      2. Treatment resistant symptomatic supraventricular or ventricular arrhythmias
      3. History or unexplained syncope (loss of consciousness)
      4. Brain embolism (clot) of a cardiac origin
      5. Concomitant HIV disease
    4. Fever, recurrent following antibiotics

    Non-Disease Specific Guidelines

    1. Physiologic impairment of functional status demonstrated by a score < 70% using either:
      1. Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS)
      2. Palliative Performance Score (PPS)
    2. Dependence on assistance for two or more of the following activities of daily living (ADLs):
      1. Feeding
      2. Bathing
      3. Dressing
      4. Toileting
      5. Ambulation (walking/moving)
      6. Transfer


    Although not the primary hospice diagnosis, the presence of certain co-morbidities should be considered in determining hospice eligibility, as the severity of these conditions is likely to contribute to a life expectancy of six months or less. These co-morbidities may include:

    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Ischemic heart disease
    • Dementia
    • Renal failure
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Liver disease
    • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
    • Neurologic disease (CVA, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s)
    • Neoplasia

    Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this page is intended for general guidance purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Each individual’s situation is unique, and eligibility for hospice care should be assessed by qualified healthcare professionals.

    Speak to the Our Team

    If you or someone you know want to learn more about the hospice care, eligibility for hospice, or our Hospice Cardiac Pathways Program, please contact us today or refer yourself or a loved one to our care. Our compassionate team at Honor Hospice is dedicated to providing information, support, and personalized care during this challenging time.