Breathlessness and end of life care

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Thursday 11th June 2020

Breathlessness is one of the common symptoms that people experience at the end of their lives. However, determining whether a patient is entering the last few days of their life requires the GP to consider a range of factors. Before making this decision it is important to consider how the patient has presented previously, if possible based on contact over a period of time.

GatewayC’s ‘Lung Cancer – End of Life Carecourse includes a full interview with Dr David Waterman, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, outlining the last stages of life.

Key points from this interview include:

  • How to decide if a patient is entering the last days of life
  • When to consider anticipatory drugs
  • Common end of life symptoms
  • How to control symptoms
  • How to manage end of life care

GPs must first: recognise that the patient is entering end of life and exclude treatable reversible causes. Anticipatory medication can be considered once GPs have assessed the five priorities of care.

Common symptoms at the end of life include:

  • Pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Sickness
  • Agitation
  • Upper airways secretions

 Find out more:

  • Access GatewayC’s ‘Lung Cancer – End of Life Care’ here
  • Read Macmillan’s guide on managing and treating breathlessness here

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Latest from the Blog

Discussing impotence with patients

Discussing impotence with patients

Friday 19th June 2020 For many patients, the relief of surviving their treatment or managing their condition can be followed with questions about other aspects of their life. Impotence can be very common after treatment for colorectal cancer; often affecting up to 90%...

read more

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read more