Items in AFP with MESH term: Quality of Life
ABSTRACT: Hospital admission for congestive heart failure is extremely common and quite expensive, although it is frequently preventable. New drugs and therapies have been reported to reduce admissions, decrease morbidity and mortality, and improve the quality of life for these patients. Patients with an ejection fraction less than 40 percent (decreased systolic function) should be treated with medication to improve symptoms and prevent progression of heart failure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a mainstay of treatment in patients who can tolerate them; in patients who cannot take these drugs, angiotensin II receptor blocking agents offer an alternative. Patients with New York Heart Association class II or III heart failure should also receive a beta blocker (metoprolol, carvedilol or bisoprolol). Recent research has shown that treatment with spironolactone improves mortality and hospital readmission rates. An exercise program should also be recommended for all patients with heart failure unless their condition is unstable.
ABSTRACT: About one half of patients who have essential hypertension have obstructive sleep apnea, and about one half of patients who have obstructive sleep apnea have essential hypertension. A growing body of evidence suggests that obstructive sleep apnea is a major contributing factor in the development of essential hypertension. Despite many patients with obstructive sleep apnea having clear symptoms of the disorder, an estimated 80 to 90 percent of cases are undiagnosed. When physicians routinely seek the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea by asking patients (especially those with hypertension) three basic sleep-related questions about snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness and reports of witnessed apneic events, the number of cases diagnosed and treated increases by about eightfold. Eliminating snoring and occurrences of apneic-hypopneic episodes will dramatically improve patients' quality of sleep and eliminate excessive daytime sleepiness, which has a detrimental effect on general functioning. Increased alertness will reduce the likelihood that patients will be involved in motor vehicle crashes. In most studies in which blood pressure was measured following treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, daytime and nighttime blood pressure levels were found to decrease significantly. This decrease in blood pressure may also reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular complications. The key to the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea is physician knowledge about the disorder. The dramatic improvement in quality of life that occurs when patients are successfully treated for obstructive sleep apnea makes detecting and treating this disorder imperative.
ABSTRACT: Patients with advanced dementia are among the most challenging patients to care for because they are often bedridden and dependent in all activities of daily living. Difficulty with eating is especially prominent and distresses family members and health care professionals. Health care professionals commonly rely on feeding tubes to supply nutrition to these severely demented patients. However, various studies have not shown use of feeding tubes to be effective in preventing malnutrition. Furthermore, they have not been demonstrated to prevent the occurrence or increase the healing of pressure sores, prevent aspiration pneumonia, provide comfort, improve functional status, or extend life. High complication rates, increased use of restraints, and other adverse effects further increase the burden of feeding tubes in severely demented patients. Feeding tubes should be avoided in many situations in which they are currently used. The preferable alternative to tube feeding is hand feeding. Though it may not be effective in preventing malnutrition and dehydration, hand feeding allows the maintenance of patient comfort and intimate patient care.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome - Article
ABSTRACT: Acute respiratory distress syndrome is the clinical manifestation of severe, acute lung injury. It is characterized by the acute onset of diffuse, bilateral pulmonary infiltrates secondary to noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, refractory hypoxia, and decreased lung compliance. Acute respiratory distress syndrome occurs most frequently in the setting of sepsis, aspiration of gastric contents, trauma, or multiple transfusions. Its complex pathophysiology involves an inciting local or systemic event that initiates pulmonary endothelial and epithelial damage and subsequent increased permeability. Tachypnea, hypoxia, and respiratory alkalosis are typical early clinical manifestations, and they are usually followed by the appearance of diffuse pulmonary infiltrates and respiratory failure within 48 hours. Early identification and treatment of the underlying disorder, along with aggressive supportive care, are essential. Experimental therapies, including those using nitric oxide and surfactant, have not been shown to improve mortality in patients with ARDS, but new therapeutic approaches such as low-volume ventilation have been shown to decrease mortality. Many patients who survive ARDS have permanent, mild to moderate impairment of lung function. Quality of life after hospitalization with ARDS may be poorer than that in similar patients without ARDS.
ABSTRACT: Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults are now overweight or obese (defined as at least 30 lb [13.6 kg] overweight), predisposing more than 97 million Americans to a host of chronic diseases and conditions. Physical activity has a positive effect on weight loss, total body fat, and body fat distribution, as well as maintenance of favorable body weight and change in body composition. Many of the protective aspects of exercise and activity appear to occur in overweight persons who gain fitness but remain overweight. Despite the well-known health and quality-of-life benefits of regular physical activity, few Americans are routinely active. Results of research studies have shown that physician intervention to discuss physical activity (including the wide array of health benefits and the potential barriers to being active) need not take more than three to five minutes during an office visit but can play a critical role in patient implementation. This article describes elements of effective counseling for physical activity and presents guidelines for developing physical activity programs for overweight and obese patients.
The Patient with Daily Headaches - Article
ABSTRACT: The term 'chronic daily headache' (CDH) describes a variety of headache types, of which chronic migraine is the most common. Daily headaches often are disabling and may be challenging to diagnose and treat. Medication overuse, or drug rebound headache, is the most treatable cause of refractory daily headache. A pathologic underlying cause should be considered in patients with recent-onset daily headache, a change from a previous headache pattern, or associated neurologic or systemic symptoms. Treatment of CDH focuses on reduction of headache triggers and use of preventive medication, most commonly anti-depressants, antiepileptic drugs, and beta blockers. Medication overuse must be treated with discontinuation of symptomatic medicines, a transitional therapy, and long-term prophylaxis. Anxiety and depression are common in patients with CDH and should be identified and treated. Although the condition is challenging, appropriate treatment of patients with CDH can bring about significant improvement in the patient's quality-of-life.
A Long Recovery - Close-ups
The Visually Impaired Patient - Article
ABSTRACT: Blindness or low vision affects more than 3 million Americans 40 years and older, and this number is projected to reach 5.5 million by 2020. In addition to treating a patient's vision loss and comorbid medical issues, physicians must be aware of the physical limitations and social issues associated with vision loss to optimize health and independent living for the visually impaired patient. In the United States, the four most prevalent etiologies of vision loss in persons 40 years and older are age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Exudative macular degeneration is treated with laser therapy, and progression of nonexudative macular degeneration in its advanced stages may be slowed with high-dose antioxidant and zinc regimens. The value of screening for glaucoma is uncertain; management of this condition relies on topical ocular medications. Cataract symptoms include decreased visual acuity, decreased color perception, decreased contrast sensitivity, and glare disability. Lifestyle and environmental interventions can improve function in patients with cataracts, but surgery is commonly performed if the condition worsens. Diabetic retinopathy responds to tight glucose control, and severe cases marked by macular edema are treated with laser photocoagulation. Vision-enhancing devices can help magnify objects, and nonoptical interventions include special filters and enhanced lighting.
ABSTRACT: As death approaches, a gradual shift in emphasis from curative and life prolonging therapies toward palliative therapies can relieve significant medical burdens and maintain a patient's dignity and comfort. Pain and dyspnea are treated based on severity, with stepped interventions, primarily opioids. Common adverse effects of opioids, such as constipation, must be treated proactively; other adverse effects, such as nausea and mental status changes, usually dissipate with time. Parenteral methylnaltrexone can be considered for intractable cases of opioid bowel dysfunction. Tumor-related bowel obstruction can be managed with corticosteroids and octreotide. Therapy for nausea and vomiting should be targeted to the underlying cause; low-dose haloperidol is often effective. Delirium should be prevented with normalization of environment or managed medically. Excessive respiratory secretions can be treated with reassurance and, if necessary, drying of secretions to prevent the phenomenon called the "death rattle." There is always something more that can be done for comfort, no matter how dire a situation appears to be. Good management of physical symptoms allows patients and loved ones the space to work out unfinished emotional, psychological, and spiritual issues, and, thereby, the opportunity to find affirmation at life's end.
Symptom Management at the End of Life - Editorials