Planning for the end of life

Heart failure is a serious chronic condition which, even with the best medical care, may progress over time. The progression of heart failure is unpredictable and varies from person to person, so you may feel uncertain about exactly what to expect in the future. Therefore, it’s important for you and your family to talk about how you want to be cared for in the future should you become very ill and unable to make decisions about your medical care at that time. You should also discuss this with your primary care physician.

Planning for the end of life (the final weeks of life when death is near) shouldn’t be seen as giving up on life, but rather as a positive way to help ease worries you may have about what might happen to you if you are unable to make decisions about your own care or about death and dying. Getting answers to your questions and letting people know what you want at the end of your life can help you feel more in control and give you peace of mind as you go about living your life.

This section looks at the various options that are available to you in planning your future care by way of an advance care directive. You may want to think about these options and discuss them with your family. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to plan for your future care so you can be open and honest about your feelings and try to make choices that are best for you.

Advance care directive
Do-not-resuscitate order
Living will
Financial plan
Questions for your doctor or nurse
Discussions with your family or carer

ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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