Palliative Care Considerations

• Dyspnea is described as an uncomfortable awareness of breathing. It is a subjective sensation, and patient self-report is the only reliable indicator. Respiratory rate or


Po2 often does not correlate with the feeling of breathlessness.

• Respiratory effort and dyspnea are not the same. Patients may report substantial relief of dyspnea from opioids with no change in respiratory rate.

• The prevalence of dyspnea varies from 12% to 74% and tends to worsen in the last week of life in terminally ill cancer patients to between 50% and 70%.

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