Palliative care in patients with advanced heart failure is strongly recommended by Clinical Practice Guidelines. We aimed to calculate the prevalence of advanced heart failure in admitted patients, to describe their management, and to analyse the factors that influence their referral to specialised palliative care.
Cross-sectional, multicentre study that consecutively included patients admitted for heart failure in 74 Spanish hospitals. If they met criteria for advanced heart failure, their treatment, complications and procedures were recorded.
A total of 3153 patients were included. Of them, 739 (23%) met criteria for advanced heart failure. They were more likely to be women, older and to have a history of anaemia, chronic kidney disease and cognitive impairment. For their management, furosemide infusions (30%) and vasodilators (21%) were used. Refractory symptoms were treated with opioids (47%) and benzodiazepines (44%). Palliative care was only provided in the last hours of life in 48% of them. A multidisciplinary approach, involving palliative care specialists was sought in 15% of these patients. Treatment with furosemide infusions, an advanced New York Heart Association functional class, to meet advanced HF criteria and the presence of cancer were associated with the referral to specialised palliative care.
Almost one in four patients admitted with HF met criteria of advanced disease. They were older and had more comorbidities. Specialist palliative care services were involved in only a minority of patients, mainly those who were highly symptomatic or had cancer.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.