LAHORE: Breathing seems to be a daunting task for people of the provincial metropolis after the recent smog issue and now Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) kills one person every 10 seconds, as per a press briefing. The disease is however not specific to Lahore.
President Pakistan Chest Society, Punjab and Jinnah Hospital Pulmonology Department head Dr Ashraf Jamal said breathlessness is the most frequently reported symptom of COPD in Pakistan. Almost 90% of the people which die from COPD belong to underdeveloped countries and cigarette smoking is the most commonly encountered risk factor for COPD, he added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 210 million cases of COPD can be found worldwide, while some estimates put this number as high as 400 to 600 million. By 2015, COPD had been killing more than three million people across the globe on an annual basis. This accounted for 5% of all deaths globally in that year.
Dr Ashraf said many cases of COPD are preventable by avoidance or early cessation of smoking. Therefore, it is important that countries should adopt the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Services Hospital Pulmonology Department head Dr Kamran Khalid Chima said COPD develops slowly and usually becomes apparent after 40 or 50 years of age.
He added that the disease is not curable, but treatment can relieve symptoms, improve quality of life and reduce the risk of death.
Dr Kamran said COPD is one of the most common respiratory disorders worldwide as 65 million people are suffering from the disease. “In Pakistan, the prevalence rate of the disease related symptoms is 18.5% and COPD patients with comorbidities are 26.7%, while 76.7% COPD patients experience exacerbations,” he said.
The challenges in COPD management are access, cost, and non-adherence, poor compliance, said Dr Kamran. “Around 50% of patients with COPD do not take their medications as prescribed and cost of the medication is a factor.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2016.
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