Monday, November 28, 2011

Heart Patients: Quantity Please, Not Quality!

MSNBC Health is reporting on the findings of this paper from the European Heart Journal. Faced with various heart-disease-related symptoms (shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, swelling of the legs and feet), three-quarters of elderly Swiss heart patients surveyed said they wouldn't prefer a one-year symptom-free life to two years with symptoms--and the severity of their symptoms was not a good predictor of who'd pick quality over quantity. Most wanted CPR if they coded--and, stunningly, researchers found that patients' preferences for resuscitation varied from what was actually entered on their charts about one-third of the time.

The finding that most of these subjects actually preferred two years of symptom-burdened life to one year symptom-free is, I'm guessing, likely to be counterintuitive to a number of bioethicists--particularly to the young, healthy ones who haven't yet had to make any concessions to their failing bodies.

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