One long-term study conducted in Sweden showed a 3.8% drop in the risk of death for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients, who took part in oxygen therapy over the course of 18 years. Even though this is still a small percentage, one has to consider how many people were included in this study. 7,628 adults between the ages of 66 to 73 were monitored and 5,497 died after they had stopped with the oxygen therapy. The study started in January 1987 and concluded in December of 2004.
The people who took part in the study died from various disease, some of which did not relate to COPD. While 76% of those who died, died from respiratory illness, 16% died from a circulatory disease, 7.6% from cancer and 1.1% from digestive organ disease.
The researchers took into account the ages of the people who died from respiratory disease, as well as their sex, and how long they has smoked and if they were still smoking when they died. They came to the conclusion that long term use of oxygen therapy dropped the risk of death from COPD down to 3.8%.
This result comes as no surprise, considering what we know about the nature of COPD, and what ultimately happens as it progresses. Since the use of oxygen therapy benefits the entire body, not just the respiratory system, your chances of living longer and having a better quality of life due to receiving the amount of oxygen your body needs, will increase.
Some of the people in this study who died may have also been smoking, even until they passed away. This should be taken into account, since COPD tends to progress at a much higher rate if one continues to smoke after diagnosis. Smoking will cause more frequent and severe exacerbations. For each exacerbation, COPD progresses and the risk of death due to COPD becomes much greater.
The study also states that physicians who are treating their COPD patients with oxygen therapy, must also monitor them for other health problems that affect other systems of the body, especially the circulatory system, with keeping a close eye on those who have a family history of any type of cancer, as well as people with sensitive digestive systems.
Another side note to the results of the study mentions that the use of tobacco has recently decreased in Sweden, so people who will need oxygen therapy tend to be much older, and have an increased risk of dying because of their age. This goes for people in other countries as well, especially if people quit smoking at a younger age, or don't even start smoking in the first place.
Even the most tightly controlled medical study can have some areas that are up for questioning. In this case, it is how the death certificates of those who took part in the study were reported to researchers. Even if the risk of death goes down by only a small percentage, it will still make a difference to someone's life and to those who care about them.