-- Randy Dotinga
FRIDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Oxygen therapy may be
unnecessary for some terminally ill people who have trouble
breathing, and could be replaced by treatment with ordinary room
air, a new study suggests.
People who are near death often experience breathlessness, and
the condition is common in terminally ill patients with conditions
such as heart failure, lung cancer and chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, the study authors explained in the report
published online Sept. 4 in
Oxygen therapy is normally used when people have low levels of
oxygen in their bodies. But in terminally ill people, it's
sometimes used even when their oxygen levels aren't dangerously
low, Dr. Amy Abernethy, of Duke University Medical Center, and
colleagues pointed out in a university news release.
In the study, the investigators randomly assigned terminally ill
patients with breathlessness to receive treatment with oxygen or
normal room air through prongs in the nose. The patients were told
to take treatment for at least 15 hours a day. A total of 211
patients completed seven days of treatment.
The researchers found that there wasn't a statistically
significant difference between the groups of patients in regards to
"Less burdensome strategies should be considered after brief assessment of the effect of oxygen therapy on the individual patient," the study authors concluded.
The study is valid and suggests the value of using room air
instead of oxygen in some cases, Dr. R. Sean Morrison, director of
the National Palliative Care Research Center at Mount Sinai School
of Medicine in New York City, who was not involved with the study,
said in an interview.
In addition to being expensive and often not covered by
insurance, oxygen therapy "requires specialized equipment and can
create anxiety about getting tanks refilled in time," Morrison
Still, he added, "we do know that in the setting of oxygen
deficiency, oxygen is beneficial."
For details about
oxygen therapy, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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