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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pain and heart failure: unrecognized and untreated.

  • Author(s): Evangelista, Lorraine S
  • Sackett, Erin
  • Dracup, Kathleen
  • et al.

Although evidence exists to support the presence of pain in advanced stages of heart failure (HF), the pain experience in the early phases of this progressive disease is poorly documented, and therefore, poorly understood. The current study was conducted to: 1) examine the prevalence of pain in cohort of patients with chronic HF (New York Heart Association class I-IV); and 2) determine the relationship between pain and QOL.Data were obtained from 300 patients (mean age 54.2+/-12.7 years; 72% male; 65% Caucasians; time since HF diagnosis 4.6+/-4.8 years). Two-thirds of the patients (67%) reported some degree of pain; the prevalence of pain increased as functional class worsened (p<.009). Differences in QOL outcomes for patients experiencing pain vs. no pain were statistically significant for physical and overall QOL. Pain accounted for 20% of the variance in QOL (p<.001) even after adjusting for age, gender, and functional class.Our findings suggest pain is present in a majority of patients with HF. Given the potential deleterious effects of untreated pain on QOL in patients with HF, it is important that healthcare providers assess patients for this often-unrecognized symptom.

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