Thirst in chronic heart failure: A review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2015, 24 (7-8), pp. 916 - 926
Issue Date:
2015-01-01
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© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Aims and objectives: This review will (1) explore factors related to thirst in chronic heart failure and (2) describe interventions to alleviate thirst in chronic heart failure patients. Background: Thirst is a common and troublesome symptom of chronic heart failure. Despite the burden and prevalence of this symptom, there are limited strategies to assist in its management. Design: This is a review of literature on the burden of thirst, contributors to thirst and potential management strategies of thirst in patients with chronic heart failure. Methods: Medline, Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health, PubMed and Scopus were searched using the key words thirst, chronic heart failure, angiotensin II, fluid restriction and intervention. Of the 165 citations yielded, nine studies (n = 9) were included. The eligibility criteria included participants with confirmed diagnosis of chronic heart failure, randomised controlled studies or any studies with thirst as primary or secondary outcome, in humans and in English. There was no limit to the years searched. Results: Factors related to thirst in chronic heart failure were condition; prolonged neurohormonal activation, treatment; pharmacological interventions and fluid restriction and emotion. No intervention studies were found in chronic heart failure patients. Interventions such as artificial saliva and chewing gum have been investigated for their effectiveness as a thirst reliever in haemodialysis patients. Conclusion: Thirst is a frequent and troublesome symptom for individuals with chronic heart failure. It is highly likely that this contributes to poor adherence with fluid restrictions. Chewing gum can help alleviate thirst, but investigation in people with heart failure is needed. Relevance to clinical practice: Increasing awareness of thirst and interventions to relieve it in clinical practice is likely to improve the quality of care for people with chronic heart failure.
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