Management of Moderate-to-Severe Dyspnea in Hospitalized Patients Receiving Palliative Care.
J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Aug 30;
Authors: Gomutbutra P, O'Riordan DL, Pantilat SZ
CONTEXT: Benzodiazepines (BZDs) are commonly prescribed for relief of dyspnea in palliative care, yet few data describe their efficacy. OBJECTIVES: To describe the management of moderate-to-severe dyspnea in palliative care patients. METHODS: Chart review of inpatients with moderate or severe dyspnea on initial evaluation by a palliative care service. We recorded dyspnea scores at follow-up (24 hours later) and use of BZDs and opioids. RESULTS: The records of 115 patients were reviewed. The mean age of patients was 64 years and primary diagnoses included cancer (64%, n=73), heart failure (8%, n=9), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (5%, n=6). At initial assessment, 73% (n=84) of the patients had moderate and 27% (n=31) had severe dyspnea. At follow-up, 74% (n=85) of patients reported an improvement in their dyspnea, of which 42% (n=36) had received opioids alone, 37% (n=31) had BZDs concurrent with opioids, 2% (n=2) had BZDs alone, and 19% (n=16) had received neither opioids nor BZDs. Logistic regression analysis identified that patients who received BZDs and opioids had increased odds of improved dyspnea (odds ratio=5.5, 95% CI=1.4-21.3) compared with those receiving no medications. CONCLUSION: Most patients reported improvement in dyspnea at 24 hours after palliative care service consultation. Consistent with existing evidence, most patients with dyspnea received opioids but only the combination of opioids and BZDs was independently associated with improvement in dyspnea. Further research on the role of BZDs alone and in combination with opioids may lead to better treatments for this distressing symptom.
PMID: 22940561 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]