COPD accounts for over 140,000 hospital admissions and over 1m bed days each year across the UK, which is 1.7% of all hospital admissions and bed days.2 Some 97% of these admissions are for emergency care.2
COPD is a long-term, progressive respiratory condition, characterised by airflow obstruction that is not fully reversible.3 In the UK, it is estimated that up to 3m people have COPD, of whom approximately 2m are undiagnosed.3 GPs have an important role to play as they are most often the first point of contact, and are well placed to identify patients at risk of COPD and assist them in living with their condition.4
Research from Chiesi’s ‘Breathing New Life into COPD’ survey (n=500) has found that flare-ups are leading to one in five (21%) COPD patients visiting A&E up to twice a year.5 This is despite the nationwide survey revealing that almost half (46%) of patients use at least three inhalers to keep their condition under control.1
Additionally, almost a third (31%) feel their treatment is not adequately controlling their condition and 60% say that there isn’t enough support available to help them manage it properly.1
Breathing new life into COPD
'Breathing New Life into COPD – Results From An Online Survey of UK Patients’ has been published in the International Journal of COPD and can be viewed here. It is based on a survey which was undertaken by Opinion Health and funded by Chiesi UK & Republic of Ireland.
The full results can be found here.
This article was initiated, funded and reviewed by Chiesi UK & Republic of Ireland
Dr Richard Russell, consultant respiratory physician at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, clinical director of the West Hampshire Integrated Respiratory Service and co-author of the publication, explains: 'There is much more to be done to improve the care of COPD patients.
'We are often treating patients with three or more inhalers and yet the results of this survey show that 17% of patients have not had their inhaler technique checked by their doctor. Patients are still suffering from poorly controlled disease, especially from acute lung attacks or exacerbations, which is impacting on all aspects of their lives and leading to significant mortality, morbidity and cost to society.'
Impact on day-to-day lives
The survey of 500 UK patients with COPD also revealed the impact of the condition on patients’ personal lives. More than a quarter of respondents (27%) said they were unemployed because of their condition.1 Of those who were employed (n=120), almost two thirds (63%) had needed to take time off work because of their COPD, with 44% needing more than five days off work.5
Almost half of the patients felt their COPD had a 'quite big' or moderate impact on their family or loved ones, while 14% judged this impact to be 'huge'.1
COPD also impairs patients’ ability to carry out daily tasks, with 34% saying that they were anxious about the possibility of having another flare-up.1
Some 18% said that the fear of having a flare-up affected getting up in the morning a lot, almost totally or totally; 22% said it affected getting dressed a lot, almost totally or totally; 41% said it affected their ability to do their shopping and 26% felt their ability to cook was compromised by a fear of flare-ups.1
Almost half (49%) of respondents said that fear of a flare-up affected walking up and down stairs a lot, almost totally or totally and 26% said it impacted walking about in the house a lot, almost totally or totally.1
This fear also impacted on social activities (41%), gardening (46%) and housework (39%), as well as sleeping (28%).1 Some 30% said that it affected their personal relationships and 39% said fear of a flare-up had impacted on their sexual intimacy.1
Dr Stephen Gaduzo, a GP with a special interest in respiratory from Stockport and former chair of the Primary Care Respiratory Society, said: 'It’s vital that healthcare professionals are supporting patients by helping them to effectively manage their condition at home. Providing patients with information about treatments, services, and support beyond the clinic or hospital can play a big part in helping them to adapt to their condition, and could ultimately reduce pressure on already stretched hospital services.'
- Titmarsh S, Poliziani M, Russell R.E. "Breathing New Life Into Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)" – Results From An Online Survey Of UK Patients. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 2019; 14: 2,799-807. Available at: https://www.dovepress.com/ldquobreathing-new-life-into-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-cop-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-COPD#F0003. Accessed February 2020.
- Snell N, Strachan D, Hubbard R, et al. Epidemiology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the UK: findings from the British Lung Foundation’s ‘respiratory health of the nation’ project. Thorax 2016; 71: A20. Available at https://thorax.bmj.com/content/71/Suppl_3/A20.1 Accessed February 2020.
- NICE. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults. Quality standard QS10. February 2016. Available at https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs10/chapter/Introduction. Accessed February 2020.
- Casaburi R, Duvall K. Improving Early-Stage Diagnosis and Management of COPD in Primary Care. Postgraduate Medicine 2014; 126(4):141-54. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2014.07.2792
- Chiesi Limited. Data on File. Breathing New Life into COPD UK patient survey raw data. 2017.
Chiesi Limited is the UK & Republic of Ireland affiliate of Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A. It is headquartered in Manchester and employs over 400 employees. Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A. is an international research-focussed Healthcare Group based in Parma, Italy, and present in 26 countries. Chiesi researches, develops and markets innovative drugs in the respiratory, specialist medicine and rare disease areas. For more information visit www.chiesi.uk.com.
Initatied, funded and reviewed by Chiesi UK & Republic of Ireland.
Date of preparation: February 2020