LivingWhat is COPD? Everything you need to know about...

What is COPD? Everything you need to know about the disease

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a chronic disease in which the lungs become inflamed and it takes a lot to breathe . In Spain it affects 1 in 10 people between 40 and 80 years old , it is the fourth specific cause of mortality in our country, ahead of lung cancer and the World Health Organization estimates that in 2030 it will become the third cause of death in the world . Almost nothing…

Smoking is the main cause of this disease and is that 40-50% of those diagnosed with COPD are smokers . Therefore, quitting smoking and better yet not starting to do so, is the best strategy to prevent it. In this sense, Dr. Julio Ancochea, head of the Pneumology Service of the Hospital de La Princesa de Madrid and director of the Respira Vida Chair makes it clear: “The first measure to tackle COPD must be prevention, every time from ages earlier “and it is estimated that 90% of smokers are from 18. Esteban Palomo, director of Patient Advocacy at GSK Spain, insists on this point:” A challenge for all of us is to help children and adolescents to that they do not start smoking . For them, the first thing they need is information and it is the obligation of adults to provide it, set an example and, above all, encourage them to be brave to say ‘no’ before the first cigarette and fall into addiction in a short time ”.

Other risk factors for COPD include: exposure to harmful fumes, chemicals, dust, or pollutants . The further away you are from them, the better.

1. Shortness of breath is the only symptom of COPD . This is only one of the symptoms that are associated with the disease but others that must be watched are: wheezing (noisy breathing, as if there were whistles in the chest), persistent cough with expulsion of phlegm and fatigue.

2. It only affects the elderly . The reality is that COPD can appear in your 40s or earlier. What is true is that most people are not diagnosed until they are 50-60 years old.

3. COPD and asthma are the same . They are different diseases although the symptoms are similar.

4. Playing sports makes COPD worse . Not at all, in fact exercising is beneficial for COPD sufferers. What is certain is that there are more or less convenient exercises.

5. Eating healthy does not help control disease . Fake. A healthy diet can help increase energy levels and improve health.

6. If you have COPD, your life is worse . If treatment is followed as well as a healthy lifestyle, a COPD patient can lead a completely normal and fulfilling life.

7. There is nothing that can be done to treat the disease . The truth is that COPD has no cure but with the help of the doctor it can be kept under control.

8. Weight does not affect COPD . The reality is that being overweight can make symptoms of the disease worse, making it even more difficult to breathe.

The preliminary results of the EPISCAN II study presented at the 29th European International Respiratory Congress (ERPS) reveal that Catalonia, Extremadura and Galicia are the autonomous communities with the highest COPD . Asturias, Murcia and La Rioja are the ones with the least incidence. “The scientific committee of EPISCAN II is already analyzing whether variations in active and passive smoking, occupational exposures or other factors explain these variations,” says Dr. Joan B. Soriano, epidemiologist at the Hospital Universitario de la Princesa, in Madrid , and member of the scientific committee of the study.

This study, launched by GSK and in which the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR) collaborates, is the largest carried out in our country (20 hospitals and clinics from the 17 autonomous communities and almost 10,000 people have participated in it) and shows that 11.8% of people over 40 years of age suffer from this respiratory disease . “It is confirmed that COPD is one of the most frequent chronic diseases in adults,” said Soriano.

EPISCAN II arrives ten years after EPISCAN and its results are not exactly good . Dr. Juan José Soler, head of the Pneumology Service at the Arnau de Vilanova-Liria Hospital in Valencia, highlights that “the prevalence of the disease has not decreased compared to the study carried out ten years ago. In fact, the figure is significantly higher (11.8% compared to the previous 10.2%). This prevalence is higher as age increases, and a strong increase among women is also very striking ”, he explains.

In people over 80, COPD affects 34.7% of men and 26.1% of women, so, on average, the disease would affect almost one in three people over this age.

One of the challenges that professionals who fight against COPD face, in addition to informing citizens and reaching the youngest so that they are aware of the great risk to health that initiating tobacco use implies, is early detection. According to data from EPISCAN II, underdiagnosis, referred by the patient, affects 74.7% . Many people who suffer from COPD are not aware that they have it and consequently do not receive the appropriate treatment to help them lead a full life.

Along these lines, Dr. Soriano points out that “the analysis of low-radiation CT image data and blood biomarkers should help us to identify strategies to reduce underdiagnosis. With EPISCAN II, the maxim is fulfilled that measuring well is the first step in tackling a problem such as COPD in the population ”.

Quitting smoking is the best measure we can adopt , always and at all times. It is never too late, since we always manage to slow down the damage ”, says Dr. Soler bluntly.

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