Symptom Relief Is Possible in Elderly Dying COVID-19 Patients: A National Register Study.

Strang P, Bergström J, Lundström S

J Palliat Med - (-) - [2020-07-31; online 2020-07-31]

Increasing numbers of people dying from COVID-19 are reported, but data are lacking on the way they die. Background: To study symptoms and symptom relief during the last week of life, comparing nursing homes with hospitals. Objective: The Swedish Register of Palliative Care with national coverage was used. Breakthrough symptoms were registered as Yes/No. Symptom relief was recorded on a 3-grade scale as Design: complete-partial-no relief. All deaths in COVID-19 were contrasted to deaths in a reference population (deaths 2019). Deaths at nursing homes were compared with deaths in hospitals. All deaths in hospitals or nursing homes (Setting and Subjects: n = 490) were analyzed. Deaths in other settings (specialized palliative care wards [n = 11], in palliative home care [n = 2], or in their own homes [n = 8]) were excluded (n = 21). Only patients with expected deaths (n = 390) were entered in the final analysis. Breathlessness as a breakthrough symptom was more common in COVID-19 patients than in the 2019 reference population (Results: p < 0.001) and relief of breathlessness, as well as anxiety, delirium, and death rattles was less successful in COVID-19 patients (p < 0.05 to p < 0.01 in different comparisons). Patients were older in nursing homes than in hospitals (86.6 years vs. 80.9 years, p < 0.001) and more often female (48% vs. 34%, p < 0.001). Breakthrough of breathlessness was much more frequently reported in hospital settings than in nursing homes, 73% versus 35% (p < 0.0001), and complete relief was more rarely possible in hospitals, 20% versus 42% (p < 0.01). The proportion of partial relief+complete relief was comparable, 92% versus 95% (ns). Also, anxiety and pain were more often completely relieved in nursing homes (p < 0.01 in both comparisons). The lower symptom prevalence in nursing homes may be explained by elderly frail residents dying already in the first phase of the COVID-19 disease, before acute respiratory distress syndrome develops.Conclusion:

Category: Other

Type: Journal article

PubMed 32746685

DOI 10.1089/jpm.2020.0249

Crossref 10.1089/jpm.2020.0249

Publications 7.1.2