Accepting Your Chronic Heart Failure is Key to Quality of Life

People who accept illness have less pain, more energy

Chronic Heart Failure

Individuals who recognize and accept heart failure as a chronic condition experience better quality of life and other clinical outcomes, according to a recent study published in the European Journal of Cardiac Nursing.

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The study, conducted in Poland, tracked 100 people who had experienced heart failure for at least six months. They used a health questionnaire called the Nottingham Health Profile to measure the effect of their condition on six particular aspects of daily functioning, and applied an Acceptance of Illness scale.

Six Life Factors Affected

The researchers found that individuals who were the least accepting of their diagnosis of chronic heart failure also rated much lower on six quality of life factors:

  • energy
  • pain
  • emotional reactions
  • sleep
  • social isolation
  • mobility

While researchers evaluated other potential influences on quality of life, including disease severity, education level, age, employment status, BMI, marital status and gender, only acceptance of one’s illness correlated to quality of life in all six categories.

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Self Care Is Key

Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Heart Failure, George M. and Linda H. Kaufman Center for Heart Failure at Cleveland Clinic, comments, “This finding is not too surprising, as the ‘common sense model of illness beliefs’ theoretical model discusses that when patients understand the chronic nature of their condition, its symptoms, consequences and how to control it, they will be more likely to carry out self-care expectations.”

While Dr. Albert and Cleveland Clinic staff were not involved in this study, they have observed similar correlations in people with heart failure.

“We know that when individuals with heart failure are physically active and exercise, limit sodium intake and take their medications as prescribed, they are more likely to stabilize and have improved quality of life,” Dr. Albert says. “This research reinforces that there is a need to learn the best way to help patients understand and accept their medical condition as a foundation to enhancing their desire to implement measures known to improve symptoms and quality of life.”

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If you have heart failure, it is best to make a concerted effort to accept the diagnosis and focus on learning about your condition and what you can do to feel your best and fully enjoy life.

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