COPD: on the rise, but still underrated

To mark World COPD Day we invited Dr. Alexandru Corlateanu to give us a background on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and how it can be managed. He also tells us about World COPD Day and what its aims are.

Prevalence of COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is still largely underestimated by the general public and as a result, often undiagnosed and untreated by doctors.

Despite its slow progression, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Today, about 210 million people suffer from this condition. Such statistics are impressive and frightening; yet COPD still remains one amongst many of the underrated diseases which are increasing in prevalence worldwide.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

Although one can’t catch COPD from someone else, it’s still something we need to talk about. A persistent cough is not often seen as chronic and shortness of breath can be associated with fatigue and aging. Many people with this non-communicable disease don’t know they have it. Diagnosed only at an advanced stage, COPD can cause serious disability and early death.

COPD is incurable; however, proper treatment can slow the progression of the disease. According to the latest forecasts, if appropriate measures for prevention are taken in the near future, the overall mortality rate associated with COPD will decrease by 30 per cent.

World COPD Day

‘Breathe in the Knowledge’ is the theme of this year’s World COPD Day, taking place on Wednesday, 16th November. This initiative intends to increase awareness of COPD and the improvement of its care.

It was launched at international level in 2002 by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) in collaboration with health care professionals and COPD patient groups.

Improving public understanding of chronic respiratory diseases can be aided by informational campaigns, such as ‘Year of the Lung’ or ‘Healthy Lungs for Life’. Any campaign of this kind aims to familiarize people with COPD symptoms and stimulate measures to promote the respiratory health of citizens, namely through a preventive approach.

Tackling COPD

Underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis can be ameliorated by new ways of assessment of COPD, for example: phenotypes, multidimensional indices, scale-free networks and a radical concept of P4 medicine. New approaches regarding different components of COPD like severity, activity and impact groupings must also be taken into consideration.

In developing countries COPD management lacks systematic approach and therefore fails to optimize patient care.

Furthermore, managing this chronic disease is essential for minimizing the effects and improving the quality of life. In developing countries COPD management lacks systematic approach and therefore fails to optimize patient care. The management of COPD in every patient should be personalized and guided by the symptoms, exacerbations, pulmonary function and co-morbidities.

Besides indoor and outdoor air pollution, early diagnosis and smoking cessation are the only available methods used to stop progression of the disease. It’s important, therefore, to understand that damage to the lungs cannot be reversed, but the existence of precision medicine which integrates endotype and phenotype with complete biological and clinical data ensures a more personalized approach and maximizes the benefit versus risk ratio.

World COPD Day is an annual opportunity for people to be informed about the latest research in this field and about new therapies that make patients able to live with their disease for years.

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