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      Burn injury during long-term oxygen therapy in Denmark and Sweden: the potential role of smoking

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          Long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) increases life expectancy in patients with COPD and severe hypoxemia. Smoking is the main cause of burn injury during LTOT. Policy regarding smoking while on LTOT varies between countries. In this study, we compare the incidence of burn injury that required contact with a health care specialist, between Sweden (a country with a strict policy regarding smoking while on LTOT) and Denmark (a country with less strict smoking policy).


          This was a population-based, cohort study of patients initiating LTOT due to any cause in Sweden and Denmark. Data on diagnoses, external causes, and procedures were obtained from the Swedish and Danish National Patient Registers for inpatient and outpatient care. Patients were followed from January 1, 2000, until the first of the following: LTOT withdrawal, death, or study end (December 31, 2009). The primary end point was burn injury during LTOT.


          A total of 23,741 patients received LTOT in Denmark and 7,754 patients in Sweden. Most patients started LTOT due to COPD, both in Sweden (74%) and in Denmark (62%). The rate of burn injury while on LTOT was higher in Denmark than in Sweden; 170 (95% confidence interval [CI], 126–225) vs 85 (95% CI, 44–148) per 100,000 person-years; rate ratio 2.0 (95% CI, 1.0–4.1). The risk remained higher after adjustment for gender, age, and diagnosis in multivariate Cox regression, hazard ratio 1.8 (95% CI, 1.0−3.5). Thirty-day mortality after burn injury was 8% in both countries.


          Compared to Sweden, the rate of burn injury was twice as high in Denmark where smoking is not a contraindication for prescribing LTOT.

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          Most cited references 14

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          Continuous or nocturnal oxygen therapy in hypoxemic chronic obstructive lung disease: a clinical trial. Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial Group.

          At six centers, 203 patients with hypoxemic chronic obstructive lung disease were randomly allocated to either continuous oxygen (O2) therapy or 12-hour nocturnal O2 therapy and followed for at least 12 months (mean, 19.3 months). The two groups were initially well matched in terms of physiological and neuropsychological function. Compliance with each oxygen regimen was good. Overall mortality in the nocturnal O2 therapy group was 1.94 times that in the continuous O2 therapy group (P = 0.01). This trend was striking in patients with carbon dioxide retention and also present in patients with relatively poor lung function, low mean nocturnal oxygen saturation, more severe brain dysfunction, and prominent mood disturbances. Continuous O2 therapy also appeared to benefit patients with low mean pulmonary artery pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance and those with relatively well-preserved exercise capacity. We conclude that in hypoxemic chronic obstructive lung disease, continuous O2 therapy is associated with a lower mortality than is nocturnal O2 therapy. The reason for this difference is not clear.
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            Long term domiciliary oxygen therapy in chronic hypoxic cor pulmonale complicating chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Report of the Medical Research Council Working Party.

             Research Medical (corresponding) (1981)
            A controlled trial of long term domiciliary oxygen therapy has been carried out in three centres in the U.K. The 87 patients, all under 70 years of age, who took part had chronic bronchitis or emphysema with irreversible airways obstruction, severe arterial hypoxaemia, carbon dioxide retention, and a history of congestive heart failure. The patients were randomised to oxygen therapy (treated) or no oxygen (controls). Oxygen was given by nasal prongs for at least 15 h daily, usually at 2 1/min. The two groups were well matched, both clinically and in terms of lung function and other laboratory findings. 19 of the 42 oxygen treated patients died in the five years of survival follow-up compared with 30 out of 45 controls: in the 66 men in this trial the survival advantage of oxygen did not emerge until 500 days had elapsed. Survival for the 12 female controls was surprisingly poor, 8 of them being dead at 3 years. Mortality was not easy to predict, though a summation of arterial carbon dioxide tension and red cell mass was helpful. Neither time spent in hospital because of exacerbations of respiratory failure nor work attendance were affected by oxygen therapy, but these patients were very ill at the start of the trial and many had already retired on grounds of age or ill-health. Physiological measurements suggested that oxygen did not slow the progress of respiratory failure in those who died early. However, in longer term survivors on oxygen, arterial oxygenation did seem to stop deterioration.
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              Guideline update: The British Thoracic Society Guidelines on home oxygen use in adults.

              The 2015 British Thoracic Society (BTS) Home Oxygen Guidelines provides detailed evidence-based guidance for the use of oxygen by patients in their own homes or other non-acute hospital settings.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                05 January 2017
                : 12
                : 193-197
                [1 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine, Skåne University Hospital, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
                [2 ]Respiratory Department, Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
                [3 ]Department of Surgical Sciences, Plastic Surgery
                [4 ]Department of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, Burn Center, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Hanan A Tanash, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Skåne University Hospital, Inga Marie Nilssons Gata 46, S-205 02 Malmö, Sweden, Email hanan.tanash@
                © 2017 Tanash et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                smoking, long-term oxygen therapy, copd, burn injury


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