Palliative Care?! But This Child’s Not Dying: The Burgeoning Partnership Between Pediatric Cardiology and Palliative Care


Wan A, Weingarten K, Rapoport A.Can J Cardiol. 2020 May 10:S0828-282X(20)30443-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2020.04.041. Online ahead of print.PMID: 32437731 Review.



The field of pediatric cardiology has witnessed major changes over the past few decades that have considerably altered patient outcomes, including decreasing mortality rates for many previously untreatable conditions. Despite this, some pediatric cardiology programs are increasingly choosing to partner with their institutional palliative care teams. Why is this? The field of palliative care also has experienced significant shifts over a similar period of time. Today’s palliative care is focused on improving quality of life for any patient with a serious or life-threatening condition, regardless of where they might be on their disease trajectory. Research has clearly demonstrated that improved outcomes can be achieved for a variety of patient cohorts through early integration of palliative care; recent evidence suggests that the same may be true in pediatric cardiology. All pediatric cardiologists need to be aware of what pediatric palliative care has to offer their patients, especially those who are not actively dying. This manuscript reviews the evolution of palliative care and provides a rationale for its integration into the care of children with advanced heart disease. Readers will gain a sense of how and when to introduce palliative care to their families, as well as insight into what pediatric palliative care teams have to offer. Additional research is required to better delineate optimal partnerships between palliative care and pediatric cardiology so that we may promote maximal quality of life for patients concurrently with continued efforts to push the boundaries of quantity of life.