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Long-term oxygen therapy: battling breathlessness.

The Consultant pharmacist : the journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. 
826-30, 833-6; 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Approximately 1 million of the 1.4 million Americans (71%) receiving long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) are Medicare beneficiaries, confirming that LTOT is most often prescribed for individuals 65 years of age or older. Although several conditions create a need for supplemental oxygen, the majority of patients have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with healthy lungs can extract the oxygen from air, while those with damaged lungs need higher oxygen concentrations. They can supplement their oxygen using one of three options: high-pressure oxygen tanks, liquid oxygen, or oxygen concentrators. The multicenter Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial and the smaller Medical Research Council study identified LTOT as an intervention that improved survival in patients with COPD or chronic respiratory failure, approximately doubling survival at 19 months in patients who were adherent to oxygen. Despite its advantages, LTOT is plagued with problems: compliance with clinical guidelines, patient adherence, and cost. Fires associated with smoking in the vicinity of supplemental oxygen are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States.
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