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September 03, 2007

COPD is "underdiagnosed, undertreated, and underfunded"

COPD is a disorder that persistently obstructs airflow in the lungs, and
is basically made up of 2 related diseases, chronic bronchitis and

You're in a constant battle to get enough oxygen into the blood, and your body had a hard time adapting to this. Think of an asthma attack that builds slowly over many years, and doesn't let up, and is not easily reversed.

The chronic obstruction can cause difficulty breathing,
wheezing and a chronic cough. Emphysema causes the destruction of lung
tissue, and those patients with this disease may require supplemental
oxygen to survive.

Reported in the latest issue of the Lancet by way of Reuters and SciAm: "The prevalence of chronic
obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is higher and stages of
disease are more advanced than has previously been reported,
according to findings from the Burden of Obstructive Lung
Disease initiative."

This is a group of researchers from the Oregon Heath and Science University in Portland who examined the prevalence of COPD and its risk factors in about 9,000 adults who were at least 40 years and were living in 12 cities on 5 continents.

They discovered risk factors other than smoking, such as "
occupational exposure to gases, dust, vapors, and fumes;
exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollutants, caused by
burning organic matter for cooking and heating; and genetic

The article quotes one researcher who stated that COPD is "underdiagnosed, undertreated,and underfunded and neglected by the public, pharmaceutical industry and physicians alike when compared with other major killers, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke."

Other editorialists in the Lancet point out that the problem of evaluating new drugs for COPD is compounded by the practice of excluding patients with other illnesses normally associated with it, such as heart disease and diabetes. One solution might be to create a new umbrella term "chronic systemic inflammatory syndrome" which would include heart disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and some cancers.

In a way, it gives the general public a different in thinking about how these diseases are tied together. Certainly preventation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle should first include first examing genetic predisposition, both then also behavioral and environmental factors that contribute to general inflammation.

Advanced COPD a major disease worldwide: Scientific American

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