Heart failure

Oxygen therapy for heart failure

Home oxygen therapy may benefit some people with heart failure. This involves breathing in oxygen via a mask or nasal tube from a gas cylinder or a machine that concentrates oxygen from the air around it. Norman had an oxygen concentrator machine with outlets in the bedroom and the living room and a spare cylinder in the bedroom. He uses it while in bed at night and occasionally during the day. Rose had a machine in her bedroom as well as portable cylinders.

Norman’s oxygen machine is noisy, which bothered his wife Elaine at first. Norman manages without oxygen while on holiday.

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Age at interview: 73
Sex: Male
Norman: I have my oxygen and it's planned that I should use it sixteen hours a day, and that is to help me to have a good standard of life throughout the day. Instead of getting your tiredness that one associates with heart failure, you know it just drains like a battery going down. I can now live a sensible normal life knowing full well I charge my batteries up. I only …it's there at side of me, and there's one in bedroom.

Elaine: It's piped in

Norman: If I feel a need I can put it on, but I put it on at night-time, just like charging your batteries. So when the morning comes I can lead a good sensible day, and it's been a great, great help, and the only problem it's a great big machine in there and that’s the…

Elaine: And it makes a lot of noise doesn’t it?

Norman: I can have a life without the oxygen – when we go on holiday I don’t take it, but it's hard.

Elaine: We know he's without it.

Norman: I have to remember…

Elaine: And it's only a fortnight

Norman: I'm going to slow… I'm going to slow down; take things… life can wait for me, we'll go at my pace, and it's there to not only for me to have an enjoyable life, but to give Elaine a rest and a chance and to enjoy. So, let her have her fun and I'll tag on and get pleasure out of it, and that’s it, it's… I'm glad I've got it, I'm really glad I've got it. It … I sometimes… I did feel sorry at first because it makes a noise – don’t bother me, but it bothers Elaine, but we're now getting used to it. 

Rose uses oxygen during the day when needing more energy to do things, and sometimes at night; she has portable cylinders delivered to her when she is away on holiday.

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Age at interview: 65
Sex: Female
Tell me about, you know, how long each day you use that for, and when and how, and that sort of thing?

Well it depends what I am doing, the oxygen. From hoovering and dusting in here, or anywhere else except for the kitchen, because I can’t use it in the kitchen in case I’ve got the cooker on.

Oh, okay.

It’d go boom.


That’s when I use it. And the ironing—I get a bit puffy doing my ironing. That’s when I use it. And I find, you know, sometimes in the evening I’m a bit breathless, so I use it then.

[uh huh]

Cos I’ve got a home oxygen and I’ve also got bottled ones.

Oh okay. So is the home oxygen thing that generates…

It’s in my bedroom.

…that generates it’s own oxygen?


But it’s not something you can carry about, is it?

No [laugh].


No it’s about that wide, about that high, but I have got bottles as well.


That you can carry about.

Okay they can’t be terribly…

But they’re a bit heavy.

Yeah, they can’t be awfully big if you can carry it around.

No, no, but they are heavy all the same.

Yes. So do you have those delivered regularly?

When I need them.

How do you go about ordering them then?

Just phone them up. I’ve got, I’ve got the oxygen lady number. 


So just phone them up and say, ‘Could I…’, you know.


And I find if I want to go away, which I did do last year with my friend, I find that the oxygen people will deliver it wherever I am going.


So that’s handy.


Summary added in April 2016.
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