During National COPD Awareness Month in November, we’re joining healthcare organizations around the globe to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the American Lung Association, 11 million Americans are living with COPD, and estimates show that millions more are living with undiagnosed COPD. There is no cure for COPD, and it is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. However, the chronic condition is treatable and can be managed well when it is detected early, especially for patients at high-risk for the disease.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released the results of its 2016 COPD awareness survey focused on gathering perceptions of those affected by COPD, including patients, caregivers and physicians. The survey, titled COPD - Tracking Perceptions of Individuals Affected, Their Caregivers, and the Physicians Who Diagnose and Treat Them, provided insightful data that can lead to improve communications and education in formulating effective treatment plans for patients suffering from COPD.
According to the NIH survey, physicians shared that 49 percent of patients are not adequately describing their symptoms and many patients do not fully report on their smoking history, which is a barrier to early diagnosis of COPD. As with any medical condition, being 100 percent honest about symptoms, medical and lifestyle history is critical for physicians to order proper tests, prescribe medications and therapies, and refer patients to the best care programs.
Unfortunately, shortness of breath, wheezing, and other common COPD symptoms may also be symptoms of other medical issues. The good news is:
- 3 out of 4 American adults said that they have heard of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.
- 73 percent of adults who suffered from COPD symptoms in 2016 said that they had talked to their doctor about their chronic cough, wheezing or shortness of breath.
- Over half of adults who have a personal experience with COPD (patient or caregiver), indicated that they would be interested in learning more about new and effective treatments and ongoing research.
More information about COPD can be found online at The COPD Foundation and the American Lung Association. Get to know the facts about how smoking, your job, the environment, or heredity factors may contribute to symptoms.
Why should patients and caregivers know COPD facts?
According to the survey report,
“…two-thirds of physicians indicated that there are pulmonary rehabilitation programs available to their patients, [but] only 38% of physicians said that they routinely prescribe pulmonary rehabilitation for their patients diagnosed with COPD.”
Knowing COPD facts and possible treatments enable patients and caregivers to ask questions about available options, like the Amedisys COPD Program, which provides a home-based treatment plan and educational program for patients and caregivers to live a healthy and productive life with COPD.