Patients with dyspnea (but not hypoxia) benefit as much from palliative therapy with room air as with oxygen, according to a Lancet study.
Some 250 patients with refractory dyspnea and arterial oxygen levels above 55 mm Hg were randomized to therapy via nasal cannula. All had, in the opinion of their clinicians, life-limiting illnesses. Half received oxygen, and half received room air in the double-blind study. The primary outcome was the patient's rating of breathlessness, measured at night and in the early morning.
After 7 days of treatment, patients in both groups reported modest benefits, and the size of the benefit did not differ between the treatment groups.
The authors conclude that, since oxygen provides no additional benefit in these patients, "less burdensome strategies should be considered after brief assessment of the effect of oxygen therapy on the individual patient."
- Palliative Care