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February 04, 2015

Study: Dying in America getting more painful

Dying in America has not become any less painful than 15 years ago — it has actually become more painful, a new study said.

The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study on Monday that said pain during the last year of life has increased by almost 12 percent from 1998 to 2010. The observational study looked at 7,204 "community-dwelling" patients, aged 51 or older, who died during the study. According to the study, researchers looked at symptoms and pain experienced by the patients.

Trends in pain intensity and symptom prevalence were analyzed for all decedents and within the categories of sudden death, cancer, congestive heart failure or chronic lung disease, and frailty.

Pain and symptoms associated with cancer patients, however, remained stagnant.

The study also noted that depression among patients also increased by more than 26 percent.

Dr. Joanne Lynn, who authored the study, told Vox that the availability of more treatments that lengthen patients' lives may be causing them to suffer more.

"We throw more medical treatment at patients who are on their way to dying, which keeps them in a difficult situation for much, much longer," she said. "We’ve increased the number of people put on ventilators and kept in hospitals, and we simply have more treatments that are possible to offer."

She added: "Think about how much we invest in curing Alzheimer’s disease, and how little we put into making the course of Alzheimer’s better."

For the full Vox story, click here.

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