Cochrane Review of Breathlessness in Top 10

18th September 2019

A Cochrane Review part-funded by CS International was one of the Top Ten citations in 2018.  The systematic review looked at the use of benzodiazepines for the relief of breathlessness.

The primary objective of the review was to determine the efficacy of benzodiazepines for breathlessness in people with advanced disease. Secondary objectives were to determine the efficacy of different benzodiazepines, different doses of benzodiazepines, different routes (oral/intravenous)  and the adverse effects/efficacy in different disease groups.

The authors concluded that there is no evidence for or against benzodiazepines for the relief of breathlessness in people with advanced cancer and COPD. Benzodiazepines caused more drowsiness as an adverse effect compared to placebo, but less compared to morphine. Benzodiazepines may be considered as a second- or third-line treatment, when opioids and non-pharmacological measures have failed to control breathlessness. There is a need for well-conducted and adequately powered studies.

Simon ST, Higginson IJ, Booth S, Harding R, Weingärtner V, Bausewein C. Benzodiazepines for the relief of breathlessness in advanced malignant and non-malignant diseases in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Oct 20;10:CD007354.