Intended for healthcare professionals


Caring for the breathless and other stories . . .

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 19 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3860

Breathlessness is not a good mode of dying, yet it is one of the commonest. “With increasing focus on home death for patients, carers are expected to support breathless people at home. Little is known about how carers experience breathlessness and the differences in caring for someone with breathlessness and malignant or non-malignant disease,” say the investigators in a cross-sectional survey of caregivers of people dying from heart failure and lung cancer in Palliative Care (2013, doi:10.1177/0269216313488812). Just as in previous studies, the researchers conclude that “those who care for breathless patients report high levels of unmet needs and burden, equally severe for heart failure and lung cancer caregivers.” The answer lies in anticipatory care, suggests Helen M Sorensen in Lancet Respiratory Medicine (2013, doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(13)70083-3). Palliative care for lung disease and heart failure should start early and stay late.

The new director of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, David Haslam, has described his job as impossible. Minerva, as goddess of …

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