Many people are surprised when told that COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada and that it is the only chronic disease for which mortality statistics are still worsening.
By Tom Smiley B.Sc. Phm., Pharm.D.
Approximately one-half of those with COPD do not realize they are affected by the disease, and only 59% of the Canadian population has even heard of COPD—which speaks to the importance of raising awareness about this deadly disease.2,3 Pharmacists are in an ideal position not only to raise awareness around COPD but also to identify those at high risk for the disease. Screening should, therefore, be a priority, but sadly this has not been the case.
Pharmacists can conduct COPD screening clinics in a very user-friendly fashion using the COPD6, a small, portable device that screens lung function. The device provides results in the same context as a spirometer (e.g., forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1]) and also provides the patient with a personal “lung age”—an indication of lung function in relation to the patient’s chronological age. This is a particularly useful tool for individuals who smoke. For example, a 35-year-old whose test results show a lung age of 75 can be highly motivated to quit smoking!
The COPD6 is affordable enough to be provided as an ongoing service for your patients. COPD screening along with quit smoking clinics have been run very successfully in many pharmacies across Canada. Available from Pear Healthcare solutions (www.pearhealthcare.com) a COPD6 kit contains all you need for your clinic: the COPD6 device, 50 disposable mouthpieces, a training DVD, carrying case, and patient information and results sheets.
Identifying a person at risk for COPD in the early stages could add years to their life, and life to their years.
5 tips for living with COPD
- Take all medications as prescribed to help control symptoms.
- Keep active to help improve breathing and reduce symptoms.
- Maintain a healthy weight to make breathing easier.
- Avoid perfumes, hair sprays and scented products.
- If you smoke, strongly consider quitting.
13% of Canadians at risk for COPD have never heard of the disease.
69% of Canadians at risk for COPD are at risk due to tobacco smoke exposure.
Nearly 50% of Canadians do not know or do not believe that there is a treatment available for COPD.
*Source: The Lung Association, www.lung.ca
1. O’Donnell DE, Hernandez P, Kaplan A et al. Canadian Thoracic Society recommendations for management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – 2008 update – highlights for primary care. Can Respir J 2008;15 Suppl A:1A-8A.
2. Canadian Thoracic Society. The Human and Economic Burden of COPD: A Leading Cause of Hospital Admission in Canada. Available at http://www.lung.ca/cts-sct/pdf/COPDReport_E.pdf. 2010. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014
3. Lung Association. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Canada. Available at http://www.lung.ca/pdf/copd/COPD_in_Canada.pdf. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014