When treatment of a heart problem can make things worse in the long run.

The author is a cardiologist who describes in the New York Times on 7/30/18 the complicated dilemma he faces when discussing a heart problem called fibrillation… a condition that causes the heart to beat erratically and ineffectively.   In a patient with this condition, s/he can die suddenly and quickly without a “defibrillator”.  Electronic ones can be implanted to shock the heart back into a regular beat.  But the downside of an implanted defibrillator is that as a patient’s heart continues to decrease in effectiveness, they are likely to die a much more prolonged and unpleasant final ending.  In this article, you can see that both patients and the doctor have difficulty coping with this dilemma.

It is worth it to attempt to think about what you would choose if you were confronted with this unfortunate choice.  It starkly raises the question of quality of life over quantity.  Have a conversation with your family and proxy about this dilemma.  Maybe you can all profit from this discussion.

 

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