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cardiovascular nursing, fluid restriction, heart failure, thirst



  1. van der Wal, Martje H.L. PhD, RN
  2. Waldreus, Nana PhD, RN
  3. Jaarsma, Tiny PhD
  4. Kato, Naoko P. PhD, RN


Background: Thirst is a distressing symptom and influences quality of life of patients with heart failure (HF). Knowledge about thirst in HF is insufficient; therefore, the aim of this study was to describe factors related to thirst, self-reported reasons for thirst, and interventions to relieve thirst in 3 different countries.


Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Japan. Patients were recruited at the HF clinic or during HF hospitalization. Thirst was assessed by a visual analog scale (0-100); reasons for thirst and interventions to relieve thirst were assessed by an open-ended questionnaire. Patients were divided into low and high thirst based on the first and third tertiles of the visual analog scale.


Results: Two hundred sixty-nine patients participated in the study (age, 72 +/- 12 years). Mean thirst intensity was 24 +/- 24, with a mean thirst of 53 +/- 15 in the highest tertile. No significant differences in thirst among the 3 countries were found. Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that a higher dose of loop diuretics (odds ratio, 3.47; 95% confidence interval, 1.49-8.06) and fluid restriction (odds ratio, 2.21; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-4.32) were related to thirst. The most reported reasons for thirst were salty/spicy food (20%) and low fluid intake (18%). Most of the patients (56%) drank more in case of thirst; 20% only drank a little bit, probably related to a fluid restriction.


Conclusions: Thirst in patients with HF was related to a higher dose of loop diuretics and fluid restriction. Healthcare providers should realize that it is important to assess thirst regularly and reconsider the need of a fluid restriction and the amount of loop diuretics in case of thirst.