Palliative care and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: where the lines meet

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and is expected to increase as the population ages. Patients have a high symptom burden, low healthcare quality of life, and unmet needs at the end of life. This review highlights specific palliative care needs of patients with advanced COPD and opportunities to integrate palliative care into standard practice.

Recent findings

There are many barriers to providing integrated palliative care in COPD, including difficulty with prognostication, communication barriers surrounding advance care planning, and lack of access to specialty palliative care. Because of the unique disease trajectory, emphases on early and primary palliative care are being studied in this patient population.

Summary

Palliative care is appropriate for patients with COPD and should be integrated with disease-specific therapies. The line between life prolonging and palliative care undoubtedly overlaps and maximizing quality of life throughout the continuum of care should be prioritized for patients with this progressive illness.

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