Year 2018 / Volume 110 / Number 11
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Year 2018 / Volume 110 / Number 11


Prevalence of the need for sodium intake restriction and the use of laxatives in palliative patients


Álvaro Gándara del Castillo, María Herrera Abián, Cristina Vicente Martín, José María Fraile Vicente, Ruth Delgado Juárez,

Background: palliative patients usually have diseases that require a restriction of dietary sodium, although the prevalence of this requirement is unknown. Such conditions, combined with constipation, may mean that the use of laxatives with electrolytes should be avoided. Objectives: to ascertain the prevalence of the need to restrict sodium intake in palliative patients and to analyze the prevalence of constipation and the use of laxatives, including those containing sodium. Method: this was a multicenter retrospective, descriptive, cross-sectional, epidemiological study of both inpatients and outpatients over 18 years of age treated at the palliative care clinic (June 2015-March 2016). Demographic and anthropometric characteristics, diseases associated with dietary sodium restriction and treatments administered were recorded. Results: the study sample consisted of 400 palliative patients, with a mean age of 77.8 ± 13.0 years and 52.2% were male. Of these, 68.3% were inpatients and 31.8% were outpatients. Comorbidities requiring low sodium or a sodium-free diet were found in 87.0% (95% CI: 83.3-90.0) of cases. Only 46.5% (95% CI: 41.5-51.5) of patients had been prescribed a low salt diet. It should be noted that 50.5% (95% CI: 45.5-55.5) of patients required a low sodium diet and suffered from constipation. Laxatives (polyethylene glycol or lactulose-rich products [PEG] with electrolytes in 54% of cases) were taken by 53.8% (95% CI: 48.7-58.7) of patients, 52.1% due to constipation and 42.3% as a prevention due to opioid treatment. Conclusions: a high proportion of the study cohort (87%) had some condition that required dietary sodium restriction and at least half the patients had constipation. The use of laxatives to treat or prevent constipation is common in palliative patients. A sodium-free laxative is therefore preferred in these patients.

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The Spanish Journal of Gastroenterology is the official organ of the Sociedad Española de Patología Digestiva, the Sociedad Española de Endoscopia Digestiva and the Asociación Española de Ecografía Digestiva
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